Macrophage Migration Inhibitory Factor as a Predictor for Long-term Improvements After Mindfulness-Based Group Therapy or Treatment as Usual for Depression, Anxiety or Stress and Adjustment Disorders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objectives: Identification of biological markers that can guide treatment selection is considered to be a viable solution for personalized treatment for patients with psychiatric disorders. This study investigated whether macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) levels at baseline were associated with mindfulness-based group therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy response in patients with mild to moderate symptoms of depression, anxiety, or stress- and adjustment disorders. Methods: A total of 168 patients (aged 21–65 years) with psychiatric disorders were included from a randomized controlled trial. Plasma MIF levels in all the patients were analyzed using Luminex assay. Results: Higher MIF levels at baseline were significantly associated with better long-term (1-year follow-up) improvement in psychiatric symptoms, as measured by changes in the Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS-S), compared with lower MIF levels, after adjustment for baseline MADRS-S score, age, sex, BMI, and pharmacotherapy (β = 5.89, p = 0.001). Patients with higher levels of MIF (8235–23,391 pg/ml) had an almost 6 points’ larger decrease in MADRS-S score after 1 year compared with those with lower MIF (727–8223 pg/ml) at baseline. Similar trends were seen after 8 weeks, albeit non-significant (β = 1.99, p = 0.18). Conclusions: The findings indicate that higher plasma MIF levels at baseline may predict better long-term outcomes with psychotherapeutic interventions for mild to moderate symptoms of depression, anxiety, or stress and adjustment disorders. MIF levels may serve as a potential biomarker that can guide treatment selection for the personalized treatment for patients with psychiatric disorders.


External organisations
  • Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
  • Shimane University
  • Center for Primary Health Care Research
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Family Medicine
  • Psychology


  • Anxiety, Cognitive behavioral therapy, Depression, Macrophage migration inhibitory factor, Mindfulness-based therapy
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2020 Mar 13
Publication categoryResearch