Objectives We aimed to examine whether the C-reactive protein (CRP) level could be used to differentiate between major depressive disorder (MDD) and bipolar II disorder (BD II). Methods Ninety-six healthy controls, 88 BD II and 72 MDD drug-naïve patients in their major depressive episodes were enrolled. The fasting plasma level of high-sensitivity CRP was assessed at baseline and after treatment. Results The BD II patients presented significantly higher 17-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS) scores and CRP levels at baseline when adjustment for age, gender, and body mass index (P < 0.001 and P < 0.001, respectively). After treatment the CRP levels remained significantly different (P < 0.001), although the HDRS score was not significantly different between the BD II and MDD patients. A receiver-operating characteristic analysis showed that a baseline CRP level of 621.6 ng/mL could discriminate between BD II and MDD, with an area under the curve of 0.816 and a sensitivity and specificity of 0.699 and 0.882, respectively. Furthermore, the baseline CRP level greater than 621.6 ng/ml had 28.2 higher odds of a diagnosis of BD II (P < 0.001, 95% confidence interval: 10.96–72.35). Conclusions The level of CRP plays a role of biomarker to differentiate between MDD and BD II depression in both their depressed and euthymic state.
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