Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Scientists reveal how inflammation affects the life of brain cells - NEUROSCIENCE
King’s College London research reveals how blood inflammation affects the birth and death of brain cells, which could offer new treatment targets for antidepressants.
Mounting evidence points to high levels of inflammation as an important biological abnormality leading to depression in at least one third of patients. However, this new study offers the first evidence that inflammation may increase depression risk by reducing the birth of new cells and accelerating the naturally-occurring death of existing cells in the brain.
Using a research model made up of human brain cells, the researchers from King’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) examined the effects of a protein (interferon-alpha IFN-α), which is able to activate the immune system and ultimately to induce depressive symptoms in healthy people.
Specifically, they investigated the impact of IFN-α on the process of brain cell formation, called neurogenesis, which is known to occur in the hippocampus, a brain region highly involved in depression and antidepressant response. Neurogenesis is normally reduced by depression and chronic stress, and this reduction is thought to be clinically relevant to the development of depression.
These new findings, published in the International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, show that IFN-α reduces the birth of new brain cells and increases brain cell death in the hippocampus. The researchers demonstrated this by regulating the levels of four inflammatory proteins, which are known to activate the immune response and to regulate distinct brain functions related to depression.
Source: Corina Marinescu