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Int J Mol Sci. 2015 Dec 4;16(12):28841-69. doi: 10.3390/ijms161226136.

The Historical Development of Immunoendocrine Concepts of Psychiatric Disorders and Their Therapy.

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Archives for the History of Psychiatry in Leipzig, Department of Psychiatry, University of Leipzig, Leipzig 04103, Germany.
Department of Mental Health, University of Tasmania, Hobart TAS 7005, Australia.
Department of Psychiatry, University of Leipzig, Leipzig 04103, Germany.
Department of Psychological Medicine, King's College London, London SE5 8AF, UK.


Relationships between the central nervous, immune and endocrine systems are a focus of psychiatric research, particularly in depression and schizophrenia. The field has long antecedents. Observed phenomena attributable to these relationships date back to the Neolithic era. Immunoendocrine theories in the broadest sense are recorded in antiquity. In the 19th century, Kraepelin and Wagner-Jauregg reported pioneering clinical observations in psychiatric patients. Von Basedow, Addison and Cushing described psychiatric symptoms in patients suffering from endocrine diseases. The 20th century opened with the identification of hormones, the first, adrenaline, chemically isolated independently by Aldrich und Takamine in 1901. Berson and Yalow developed the radioimmunoassay (RIA) technique in 1959 making it possible to measure levels of hormones and cytokines. These developments have enabled great strides in psychoimmunoendocrinology. Contemporary research is investigating diagnostic and therapeutic applications of these concepts, for example by identifying biomarkers within the endocrine and immune systems and by synthesizing and testing drugs that modulate these systems and show antidepressant or antipsychotic properties.


cytokines; depression; history of psychiatry; hormones; immune system; schizophrenia

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