Therapeutic Implications of Brain-Immune Interactions: Treatment in Translation

Neuropsychopharmacology. 2017 Jan;42(1):334-359. doi: 10.1038/npp.2016.167. Epub 2016 Aug 24.


A wealth of data has been amassed that details a complex, yet accessible, series of pathways by which the immune system, notably inflammation, can influence the brain and behavior. These data have opened the window to a diverse array of novel targets whose potential efficacy is tied to specific neurotransmitters and neurocircuits as well as specific behaviors. What is clear is that the impact of inflammation on the brain cuts across psychiatric disorders and engages dopaminergic and glutamatergic pathways that regulate motivation and motor activity as well as the sensitivity to threat. Given the ability to identify patient populations with increased inflammation, the precision of interventions can be further tuned, in conjunction with the ability to establish target engagement in the brain through the use of multiple neuroimaging strategies. After a brief overview of the mechanisms by which inflammation affects the brain and behavior, this review examines the extant literature on the efficacy of anti-inflammatory treatments, while forging guidelines for future intelligent clinical trial design. An examination of the most promising therapeutic strategies is also provided, along with some of the most exciting clinical trials that are currently being planned or underway.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / immunology*
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / immunology*
  • Inflammation / therapy
  • Mental Disorders / immunology*
  • Mental Disorders / therapy
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / metabolism*


  • Neurotransmitter Agents