Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
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.



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.


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


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.


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.


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.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk