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Biol Psychiatry. 2009 Sep 1;66(5):407-14. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2009.03.015. Epub 2009 May 7.

Inflammation causes mood changes through alterations in subgenual cingulate activity and mesolimbic connectivity.

Author information

  • 1Wellcome Trust, Centre for Neuroimaging, Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, UCL, 17 Queen Square, London WC1N 3AR, UK. n.harrison@fil.ion.ucl.ac.uk

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Inflammatory cytokines are implicated in the pathophysiology of depression. In rodents, systemically administered inflammatory cytokines induce depression-like behavior. Similarly in humans, therapeutic interferon-alpha induces clinical depression in a third of patients. Conversely, patients with depression also show elevated pro-inflammatory cytokines.

OBJECTIVES:

To determine the neural mechanisms underlying inflammation-associated mood change and modulatory effects on circuits involved in mood homeostasis and affective processing.

METHODS:

In a double-blind, randomized crossover study, 16 healthy male volunteers received typhoid vaccination or saline (placebo) injection in two experimental sessions. Mood questionnaires were completed at baseline and at 2 and 3 hours. Two hours after injection, participants performed an implicit emotional face perception task during functional magnetic resonance imaging. Analyses focused on neurobiological correlates of inflammation-associated mood change and affective processing within regions responsive to emotional expressions and implicated in the etiology of depression.

RESULTS:

Typhoid but not placebo injection produced an inflammatory response indexed by increased circulating interleukin-6 and significant mood reduction at 3 hours. Inflammation-associated mood deterioration correlated with enhanced activity within subgenual anterior cingulate cortex (sACC) (a region implicated in the etiology of depression) during emotional face processing. Furthermore, inflammation-associated mood change reduced connectivity of sACC to amygdala, medial prefrontal cortex, nucleus accumbens, and superior temporal sulcus, which was modulated by peripheral interleukin-6.

CONCLUSIONS:

Inflammation-associated mood deterioration is reflected in changes in sACC activity and functional connectivity during evoked responses to emotional stimuli. Peripheral cytokines modulate this mood-dependent sACC connectivity, suggesting a common pathophysiological basis for major depressive disorder and sickness-associated mood change and depression.

PMID:
19423079
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2885494
Free PMC Article

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