Background: Depression is common in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) but the pathway is not well understood. We examined whether the locus of susceptibility to colitis in mice with depression-like behavior (DLB) resides with the macrophage and implicates the vagus nerve.
Methods: Chronic colitis mimicking ulcerative colitis (UC) was induced by dextran sulfate sodium administered to C57BL/6-mice. Depression was induced by intracerebroventricular infusion of reserpine in healthy or vagotomized mice treated with antidepressant desmethylimipramine (DMI). Colitis was assessed macroscopically, histologically, and by C-reactive protein measurement in serum and by cytokines in colonic samples. Cytokine release was measured on macrophages isolated from these models. Naive macrophage colony-stimulating factor-deficient mice (op/op) were injected with peritoneal macrophages obtained from the different groups and acute colitis was induced.
Results: Vagotomy reactivated inflammation in mice with chronic colitis. DLB reactivated colitis and this was prevented by DMI only in mice with intact vagi. Macrophages isolated from vagotomized or DLB-mice showed a selective increase of proinflammatory cytokine release and this was not seen in macrophages isolated from DLB-DMI-treated mice; moreover, vagotomy abolished this beneficial effect. In op/op, adoptive transfer of macrophages from non-DLB mice significantly increased the inflammatory markers. These parameters were significantly increased when transferred with macrophages isolated from DLB or VXP mice. Op/op mice that received macrophages from DLB-DMI-treated mice showed a significant decrease of all parameters and vagotomy abolished this effect.
Conclusions: These data identify the critical role of macrophage in linking depression and susceptibility to intestinal inflammation via the vagus nerve. The results provide a basis for developing new approaches to the management of UC patients with coexisting depression by rebalancing cytokine production by the cell.
Copyright © 2011 Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America, Inc.