Article: Inflammation and Immune Responses as Causes of Mental Disorders

Mad in America

Growing Interest in Inflammation and Immune Responses as Causes of Mental Disorders

March 6, 2015

There is mounting evidence that inflammation and altered immune system responses may be playing important roles in the pathogenesis of psychological distress, including in the etiology of schizophrenia, according to a research review and editorial in The Lancet Psychiatry.

“Contrary to the traditional view that the brain is an immunologically privileged site shielded behind the blood–brain barrier, studies in the past 20 years have noted complex interactions between the immune system, systemic inflammation, and the brain, which can lead to changes in mood, cognition, and behaviour,” stated a team led by University of Cambridge researchers.

“Early in the 20th century, there was great excitement when general paresis of the insane was shown to be due to syphilis and curable with penicillin, inspiring hope that similar organic causes might be found for other types of mental illness,” stated the editorial. “This hope was not realised and for the rest of the century immunology and psychiatry went their separate ways. Now evidence is accumulating that neuroinflammation might after all contribute to some disorders, such as schizophrenia(.)”

The Lancet Psychiatry. “Mind and Antibody: The Return of Immunopsychiatry.” The Lancet Psychiatry 2, no. 3 (n.d.): 191. Accessed March 1, 2015. doi:10.1016/S2215-0366(15)00057-7. (Full text)

Khandaker, Golam M, Lesley Cousins, Julia Deakin, Belinda R Lennox, Robert Yolken, and Peter B Jones. “Inflammation and Immunity in Schizophrenia: Implications for Pathophysiology and Treatment.” The Lancet Psychiatry 2, no. 3 (n.d.): 258–70. Accessed March 1, 2015. doi:10.1016/S2215-0366(14)00122-9. (Abstract)

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