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So depression is an inflammatory disease, but where does the inflammation come from?

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      Abstract

      Background

      We now know that depression is associated with a chronic, low-grade inflammatory response and activation of cell-mediated immunity, as well as activation of the compensatory anti-inflammatory reflex system. It is similarly accompanied by increased oxidative and nitrosative stress (O&NS), which contribute to neuroprogression in the disorder. The obvious question this poses is ‘what is the source of this chronic low-grade inflammation?’

      Discussion

      This review explores the role of inflammation and oxidative and nitrosative stress as possible mediators of known environmental risk factors in depression, and discusses potential implications of these findings. A range of factors appear to increase the risk for the development of depression, and seem to be associated with systemic inflammation; these include psychosocial stressors, poor diet, physical inactivity, obesity, smoking, altered gut permeability, atopy, dental cares, sleep and vitamin D deficiency.

      Summary

      The identification of known sources of inflammation provides support for inflammation as a mediating pathway to both risk and neuroprogression in depression. Critically, most of these factors are plastic, and potentially amenable to therapeutic and preventative interventions. Most, but not all, of the above mentioned sources of inflammation may play a role in other psychiatric disorders, such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, autism and post-traumatic stress disorder.

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      Most cited references 232

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      Obesity as a medical problem.

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      Obesity is now so common within the world's population that it is beginning to replace undernutrition and infectious diseases as the most significant contributor to ill health. In particular, obesity is associated with diabetes mellitus, coronary heart disease, certain forms of cancer, and sleep-breathing disorders. Obesity is defined by a body-mass index (weight divided by square of the height) of 30 kg m(-2) or greater, but this does not take into account the morbidity and mortality associated with more modest degrees of overweight, nor the detrimental effect of intra-abdominal fat. The global epidemic of obesity results from a combination of genetic susceptibility, increased availability of high-energy foods and decreased requirement for physical activity in modern society. Obesity should no longer be regarded simply as a cosmetic problem affecting certain individuals, but an epidemic that threatens global well being.
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        A meta-analysis of cytokines in major depression.

        Major depression occurs in 4.4% to 20% of the general population. Studies suggest that major depression is accompanied by immune dysregulation and activation of the inflammatory response system (IRS). Our objective was to quantitatively summarize the data on concentrations of specific cytokines in patients diagnosed with a major depressive episode and controls. We performed a meta-analysis of studies measuring cytokine concentration in patients with major depression, with a database search of the English literature (to August 2009) and a manual search of references. Twenty-four studies involving unstimulated measurements of cytokines in patients meeting DSM criteria for major depression were included in the meta-analysis; 13 for tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, 9 for interleukin (IL)-1beta, 16 for IL-6, 5 for IL-4, 5 for IL-2, 4 for IL-8, 6 for IL-10, and 4 for interferon (IFN)-gamma. There were significantly higher concentrations of TNF-alpha (p < .00001), weighted mean difference (WMD) (95% confidence interval) 3.97 pg/mL (2.24 to 5.71), in depressed subjects compared with control subjects (438 depressed/350 nondepressed). Also, IL-6 concentrations were significantly higher (p < .00001) in depressed subjects compared with control subjects (492 depressed/400 nondepressed) with an overall WMD of 1.78 pg/mL (1.23 to 2.33). There were no significant differences among depressed and nondepressed subjects for the other cytokines studied. This meta-analysis reports significantly higher concentrations of the proinflammatory cytokines TNF-alpha and IL-6 in depressed subjects compared with control subjects. While both positive and negative results have been reported in individual studies, this meta-analytic result strengthens evidence that depression is accompanied by activation of the IRS. Copyright 2010 Society of Biological Psychiatry. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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          Worldwide time trends in the prevalence of symptoms of asthma, allergic rhinoconjunctivitis, and eczema in childhood: ISAAC Phases One and Three repeat multicountry cross-sectional surveys.

          Data for trends in prevalence of asthma, allergic rhinoconjunctivitis, and eczema over time are scarce. We repeated the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) at least 5 years after Phase One, to examine changes in the prevalence of symptoms of these disorders. For the ISAAC Phase Three study, between 2002 and 2003, we did a cross-sectional questionnaire survey of 193,404 children aged 6-7 years from 66 centres in 37 countries, and 304,679 children aged 13-14 years from 106 centres in 56 countries, chosen from a random sample of schools in a defined geographical area. Phase Three was completed a mean of 7 years after Phase One. Most centres showed a change in prevalence of 1 or more SE for at least one disorder, with increases being twice as common as decreases, and increases being more common in the 6-7 year age-group than in the 13-14 year age-group, and at most levels of mean prevalence. An exception was asthma symptoms in the older age-group, in which decreases were more common at high prevalence. For both age-groups, more centres showed increases in all three disorders more often than showing decreases, but most centres had mixed changes. The rise in prevalence of symptoms in many centres is concerning, but the absence of increases in prevalence of asthma symptoms for centres with existing high prevalence in the older age-group is reassuring. The divergent trends in prevalence of symptoms of allergic diseases form the basis for further research into the causes of such disorders.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ]IMPACT Strategic Research Centre, School of Medicine, Deakin University, Geelong, VIC, Australia
            [2 ]Department of Psychiatry, University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC, Australia
            [3 ]Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, Parkville, VIC, Australia
            [4 ]Orygen Youth Health Research Centre, Parkville, VIC, Australia
            [5 ]School of Public health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia
            [6 ]NorthWest Academic Centre, Department of Medicine, The University of Melbourne, St Albans, VIC, Australia
            [7 ]Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences, University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC, Australia
            [8 ]Department of Psychiatry, Chulalongkorn University, Rama Road, Bangkok, Thailand
            Contributors
            Journal
            BMC Med
            BMC Med
            BMC Medicine
            BioMed Central
            1741-7015
            2013
            12 September 2013
            : 11
            : 200
            24228900
            3846682
            1741-7015-11-200
            10.1186/1741-7015-11-200
            Copyright © 2013 Berk et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

            This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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