Psychiatric medications and the risk of autoimmune and immune-mediated inflammatory diseases: A systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies

Ilmari Larivuo, Heidi Laukkala, Anna Nevalainen, Otso Arponen, Olli P.O. Nevalainen

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Background Pharmacovigilance reports have suggested that certain commonly used medications may trigger autoimmune diseases (ADs) and immune-mediated inflammatory diseases (IMIDs). We systematically reviewed the literature to evaluate whether psychiatric medication use is associated with ADs and IMIDs. Methods The protocol was registered in PROSPERO (CRD42022296524) before the start of the study. We searched Medline Ovid and Scopus up to November 28th, 2021, for comparative studies, with any psychiatric medication as exposure and ADs and IMIDs as outcomes. Meta-analysis was performed using DerSimonian-Laird random-effects modeling. The PRISMA 2020 guidelines were followed in reporting. Study-level risk of bias was assessed using the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale, and the overall certainty of evidence using GRADE. Results There were 7,265 citations from which 31 studies were eligible, all from high-income countries, covering 15 distinct immune diseases. The evidence for the association between selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) use and higher risk of microscopic colitis (meta-OR 2.60, 95% CI 1.05–6.39, I2 97.5%, 6 studies) was of low certainty. A subgroup analysis by the histological type of microscopic colitis showed a statistically significant association only with lymphocytic colitis (meta-OR 2.88, 95% CI 2.60–3.18, I2 00.00%, three studies). In two case-control studies, SSRI use had no significant association with psoriasis (meta-OR 0.80, 95% CI 0.58–1.10, I2 82.4%). The risk of acute pancreatitis was slightly increased with exposure to SSRIs (meta-OR 1.13, 95% CI 1.01–1.26, I2 00.0%), as was the risk of bullous pemphigoid after exposure to antipsychotics (meta-OR 1.79, 95% CI 1.17–2.73, I2 0%). Conclusions We reviewed the literature on whether psychiatric medications associate with the risk of ADs and IMIDs and concluded that, despite several signals, the credibility of evidence remains low at best. Prospective cohort studies would be needed as the next step to confirm the suggestions of increased risk.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0281979
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Immunology
  • Biological Psychiatry


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