Brain inflammation and major depression

As discussed in Chap. 7, evidence has a accumulated linking immune involvement to major depressive disorder. A new paper from Karoly Mirnics at Vanderbilt University provides further support for this association (Shelton et al., Molecular Psychiatry 16:751, ’11). This study examined changes in gene expression in several brain regions of post-mortem samples taken from psychotropic drug-free patients and controls. Remarkably, compared to controls, 13 different pro-inflammatory cytokines are up-regulated in the depression samples. This is strong evidence of a local inflammatory state, and is reminiscent of findings in autism and schizophrenia (also presented in Chap. 7).

Two relevant reviews have also appeared: “Toward an anti-inflammatory strategy for depression” (S. Hayley, ’11), and “The concept of depression as a dysfunction of the immune system” (B.E. Leonard).

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