Clenbuterol attenuates immune reaction to lipopolysaccharide and its relationship to anhedonia in adolescents

Tram N.B. Nguyen, Benjamin A. Ely, Danielle Pick, Manishkumar Patel, Hui Xie, Seunghee Kim-Schulze, Vilma Gabbay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


While inflammation has been implicated in psychopathology, relationships between immune-suppressing processes and psychiatric constructs remain elusive. This study sought to assess whether β2-agonist clenbuterol (CBL) would attenuate immune activation in adolescents with mood and anxiety symptoms following ex vivo exposure of whole blood to lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Our focus on adolescents aimed to target a critical developmental period when psychiatric conditions often emerge and prior to chronicity effects. To capture a diverse range of immunologic and symptomatologic phenotypes, we included 97 psychotropic-medication free adolescents with mood and anxiety symptoms and 33 healthy controls. All participants had comprehensive evaluations and dimensional assessments of psychiatric symptoms. Fasting whole-blood samples were collected and stimulated with LPS in the presence and absence of CBL for 6 hours, then analyzed for 41 cytokines, chemokines, and hematopoietic growth factors. Comparison analyses used Bonferroni-corrected nonparametric tests. Levels of nine immune biomarkers—including IL-1RA, IL-1β, IL-6, IP-10, MCP-1, MIP-1α, MIP-1β, TGF-α, and TNF-α—were significantly reduced by CBL treatment compared to LPS alone. Exploratory factor analysis reduced 41 analytes into 5 immune factors in each experimental condition, and their relationships with psychiatric symptoms were examined as a secondary aim. CBL + LPS Factor 4—comprising EGF, PDGF-AA, PDGF-AB/BB, sCD40L, and GRO—significantly correlated with anticipatory and consummatory anhedonia, even after controlling for depression severity. This study supports the possible inhibitory effect of CBL on immune activation. Using a data-driven method, distinctive relationships between CBL-affected immune biomarkers and dimensional anhedonia were reported, further elucidating the role of β2-agonism in adolescent affective symptomatology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-99
Number of pages11
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity
StatePublished - Nov 2022


  • Adolescence
  • Anhedonia
  • Chemokines
  • Clenbuterol
  • Cytokines
  • Hematopoietic Growth Factors
  • Immune Challenge
  • Lipopolysaccharide
  • RDoC


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