IMR Press / FBS / Volume 1 / Issue 1 / DOI: 10.2741/S26

Frontiers in Bioscience-Scholar (FBS) is published by IMR Press from Volume 13 Issue 1 (2021). Previous articles were published by another publisher on a subscription basis, and they are hosted by IMR Press on as a courtesy and upon agreement with Frontiers in Bioscience.

Neurochemical and behavioral responses to inflammatory immune stressors
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1 Institute of Neurosciences, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.

Academic Editor: Leonardo Tonelli

Front. Biosci. (Schol Ed) 2009, 1(1), 275–295;
Published: 1 June 2009
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Infectious diseases and brain function)

Activation of the inflammatory immune system has been associated with the development of psychological disorders such as major depressive disorder (MDD). In this regard, the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines (signaling molecules of the immune system) provokes a constellation of neurochemical and behavioral alterations, reminiscent of the effects of traditional stressors, which if sustained could influence psychological functioning. In animal models, exogenously administered cytokines, as well as bacterial endotoxins and viral analogues, induce a variety of behavioral disturbances collectively known as sickness behavior. Although it is difficult to differentiate the general malaise of sickness engendered by cytokines from the depressogenic effects, clinical studies have revealed increased levels of circulating cytokines and acute phase proteins in patients diagnosed with MDD. Furthermore, the incidence of MDD is increased in patients suffering from chronic inflammatory conditions, and immunotherapy used to treat chronic illnesses such as Hepatitis C was related to high levels of depression that could be attenuated by antidepressant treatment. Together, these findings indicate that activation of the inflammatory immune system may favor the evolution of psychological disturbances.

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