Brain Structures Implicated in Inflammation-Associated Depression

Curr Top Behav Neurosci. 2017;31:221-248. doi: 10.1007/7854_2016_30.


Systemic inflammation rapidly impairs mood, motivation, and cognition inducing a stereotyped cluster of symptoms collectively known as "sickness behaviors." When inflammation is severe or chronic, these behavioral changes can appear indistinguishable from major depressive disorder (MDD). Human and rodent neuroimaging combined with experimental inflammatory challenges has clarified the neural circuitry associated with many of the key features of inflammation-induced-sickness behavior, and in so doing revealed often-remarkable commonalities with circuit abnormalities observed in MDD. This review aims to provide the first synthesis of this work illustrating areas of convergence and divergence with the MDD literature as well as highlighting areas for future study.

Keywords: Amygdala; Cytokine; Depression; Inflammation; Insula; Interferon; MRI; Microglia; PET; Ventral striatum; fMRI.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / etiology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Illness Behavior / physiology*
  • Inflammation / complications
  • Inflammation / physiopathology*
  • Ventral Striatum / physiology*