Neuroinflammatory pathways in anxiety, posttraumatic stress, and obsessive compulsive disorders

Psychiatry Res. 2015 Sep 30;229(1-2):37-48. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2015.05.036. Epub 2015 Jun 6.


As prevalence of anxiety, posttraumatic stress, and obsessive compulsive disorders continue to rise worldwide, increasing focus has been placed on immune mediated theories in understanding the underlying mechanisms of these disorders. Associations between the dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and these disorders have been recognized in the scientific literature, specifically in regard to cortisol levels, as well as changes in pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines. The present commentary will systematically assess the scientific literature within the past decade in regard to the psychoneuroimmunology of anxiety, posttraumatic stress, and obsessive compulsive disorders. Understanding the mechanisms of these disorders is essential in order to determine efficacious and targeted treatment strategies, which may lead to substantial improvements in overall functioning, as well as significant decreases in societal and economic burden.

Keywords: Generalized anxiety disorder; Hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis; Inflammation; Obsessive compulsive disorder; Panic disorder; Posttraumatic stress disorder; Social anxiety disorder.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology
  • Anxiety Disorders / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System
  • Interleukin-6 / blood
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / immunology*
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / immunology*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism


  • Interleukin-6
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha