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      The role of inflammation in depression: from evolutionary imperative to modern treatment target

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      Nature Reviews Immunology

      Springer Science and Business Media LLC

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          Abstract

          Crosstalk between inflammatory pathways and neurocircuits in the brain can lead to behavioural responses, such as avoidance and alarm, that are likely to have provided early humans with an evolutionary advantage in their interactions with pathogens and predators. However, in modern times, such interactions between inflammation and the brain appear to drive the development of depression and may contribute to non-responsiveness to current antidepressant therapies. Recent data have elucidated the mechanisms by which the innate and adaptive immune systems interact with neurotransmitters and neurocircuits to influence the risk for depression. Here, we detail our current understanding of these pathways and discuss the therapeutic potential of targeting the immune system to treat depression.

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          Most cited references 125

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          Structural and functional features of central nervous system lymphatics

          One of the characteristics of the CNS is the lack of a classical lymphatic drainage system. Although it is now accepted that the CNS undergoes constant immune surveillance that takes place within the meningeal compartment 1–3 , the mechanisms governing the entrance and exit of immune cells from the CNS remain poorly understood 4–6 . In searching for T cell gateways into and out of the meninges, we discovered functional lymphatic vessels lining the dural sinuses. These structures express all of the molecular hallmarks of lymphatic endothelial cells, are able to carry both fluid and immune cells from the CSF, and are connected to the deep cervical lymph nodes. The unique location of these vessels may have impeded their discovery to date, thereby contributing to the long-held concept of the absence of lymphatic vasculature in the CNS. The discovery of the CNS lymphatic system may call for a reassessment of basic assumptions in neuroimmunology and shed new light on the etiology of neuroinflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases associated with immune system dysfunction.
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            Inflammation and its discontents: the role of cytokines in the pathophysiology of major depression.

            Recognition that inflammation may represent a common mechanism of disease has been extended to include neuropsychiatric disorders including major depression. Patients with major depression have been found to exhibit increased peripheral blood inflammatory biomarkers, including inflammatory cytokines, which have been shown to access the brain and interact with virtually every pathophysiologic domain known to be involved in depression, including neurotransmitter metabolism, neuroendocrine function, and neural plasticity. Indeed, activation of inflammatory pathways within the brain is believed to contribute to a confluence of decreased neurotrophic support and altered glutamate release/reuptake, as well as oxidative stress, leading to excitotoxicity and loss of glial elements, consistent with neuropathologic findings that characterize depressive disorders. Further instantiating the link between inflammation and depression are data demonstrating that psychosocial stress, a well-known precipitant of mood disorders, is capable of stimulating inflammatory signaling molecules, including nuclear factor kappa B, in part, through activation of sympathetic nervous system outflow pathways. Interestingly, depressed patients with increased inflammatory biomarkers have been found to be more likely to exhibit treatment resistance, and in several studies, antidepressant therapy has been associated with decreased inflammatory responses. Finally, preliminary data from patients with inflammatory disorders, as well as medically healthy depressed patients, suggest that inhibiting proinflammatory cytokines or their signaling pathways may improve depressed mood and increase treatment response to conventional antidepressant medication. Translational implications of these findings include the unique opportunity to identify relevant patient populations, apply immune-targeted therapies, and monitor therapeutic efficacy at the level of the immune system in addition to behavior.
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              A neurotrophic model for stress-related mood disorders.

              There is a growing body of evidence demonstrating that stress decreases the expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in limbic structures that control mood and that antidepressant treatment reverses or blocks the effects of stress. Decreased levels of BDNF, as well as other neurotrophic factors, could contribute to the atrophy of certain limbic structures, including the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex that has been observed in depressed subjects. Conversely, the neurotrophic actions of antidepressants could reverse neuronal atrophy and cell loss and thereby contribute to the therapeutic actions of these treatments. This review provides a critical examination of the neurotrophic hypothesis of depression that has evolved from this work, including analysis of preclinical cellular (adult neurogenesis) and behavioral models of depression and antidepressant actions, as well as clinical neuroimaging and postmortem studies. Although there are some limitations, the results of these studies are consistent with the hypothesis that decreased expression of BDNF and possibly other growth factors contributes to depression and that upregulation of BDNF plays a role in the actions of antidepressant treatment.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature Reviews Immunology
                Nat Rev Immunol
                Springer Science and Business Media LLC
                1474-1733
                1474-1741
                January 2016
                December 29 2015
                January 2016
                : 16
                : 1
                : 22-34
                10.1038/nri.2015.5
                26711676
                © 2016

                http://www.springer.com/tdm

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