Alexithymia and interleukin variations in somatoform disorder

F. Pedrosa Gil, M. Nickel, N. Ridout, M.J. Schwarz, C. Schoechlin, R. Schmidmaier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The aim of the present study was to investigate if somatoform disorders (SFD) are associated with changes in the normal serum levels of important interleukins, and further, to establish if these changes are related to the presence and severity of alexithymia in patients with SFD. Methods: Twenty-four unmedicated patients who met the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) diagnostic criteria for SFD completed the psychological questionnaire to assess alexithymia (Toronto Alexithymia Scale), symptom reporting (SCL-90-R) and diagnostic criteria for SFD (Screening for Somatoform Symptoms scale). Serum concentrations of soluble interleukin 2 receptor α (sIL-2 Rα), IL-4, IL-6, IL-10 and IL-12 were determined in patients with SFD and in 9 healthy subjects. Results: In patients with SFD, serum levels of IL-6 (p < 0.001), IL-10 (p = 0.047) and immunoglobulin E (p = 0.045) were significantly increased in comparison with healthy controls. Additionally, a negative correlation was observed between the level of alexithymia ('total' Toronto Alexithymia Scale score) and the serum levels of sIL-2 Rα (r = -0.538) in SFD. Conclusions: Taken together, these results suggest that SFD, with clinically significant alexithymia, are associated with a reduction in Th1-mediated immune function and an increase in the activation of the Th2 immune function, indicated by the augmented serum levels of IL-6 and IL-10 and elevated immunoglobulin E. Copyright © 2007 S. Karger AG.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-242
Number of pages8
Issue number5
Early online date10 Dec 2007
Publication statusPublished - 2007

Bibliographical note

© Karger


  • alexithymia
  • interleukin
  • somatoform disorders


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