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Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2010 May;34(6):782-90. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2009.03.012. Epub 2009 Apr 5.

Early attachment-figure separation and increased risk for later depression: potential mediation by proinflammatory processes.

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Department of Psychology, Wright State University, 335 Fawcett Hall, Dayton, OH 45435, USA.


Early maternal separation and other disruptions of attachment relations are known to increase risk for the later onset of depressive illness in vulnerable individuals. It is suggested here that sensitization involving proinflammatory processes may contribute to this effect. This argument is based on: (1) current notions of the role of proinflammatory cytokines in depressive illness; (2) evidence that proinflammatory cytokines mediate depressive-like behavior during separation in a rodent model of infant attachment; and (3) comparisons of the effects of early proinflammatory activation versus maternal separation on later proinflammatory activity and biobehavioral processes related to depression. The possible interaction of proinflammatory processes and corticotropin-releasing factor in the sensitization process is discussed.

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