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J Psychiatr Res. 2015 Nov;70:18-27. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2015.08.009. Epub 2015 Aug 11.

Dysregulation of the NF-κB pathway as a potential inducer of bipolar disorder.

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Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK; INSIGNEO Institute for in silico Medicine, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK. Electronic address:
Department of Mental Health, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA.


A century of investigations enhanced our understanding of bipolar disorder although it remains a complex multifactorial disorder with a mostly unknown pathophysiology and etiology. The role of the immune system in this disorder is one of the most controversial topics in genetic psychiatry. Though inflammation has been consistently reported in bipolar patients, it remains unclear how the immunologic process influences the disorder. One of the core components of the immune system is the NF-κB pathway, which plays an essential role in the development of innate and adaptive immunity. Remarkably, the NF-κB pathway received only little attention in bipolar studies, as opposed to studies of related psychiatric disorders where immune dysregulation has been proposed to explain the neurodegeneration in patient conditions. If immune dysregulation can also explains the neurodegeneration in bipolar disorder, it will underscore the role of the immune system in the chronicity and pathophysiology of the disorder and may promote personalized therapeutic strategies. This is the first review to summarize the current knowledge of the pathophysiological functions of NF-κB in bipolar disorder.


Bipolar disorder; Cytokines; Inflammation; NF-κB; Psychiatric disorders

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