Immunopsychiatry: important facts

Psychol Med. 2017 Oct;47(13):2229-2237. doi: 10.1017/S0033291717000745. Epub 2017 Apr 18.


Accumulating evidence indicate a role for the immune system particularly inflammation and autoimmunity in the aetiology of major psychiatric disorders such as depression and schizophrenia. In this paper, we discuss some of the key advances in immunopsychiatry in order to highlight to psychiatrists and other health professionals how an increased understanding of this field might enhance our knowledge of illness mechanism and approaches to treatment. We present a brief overview of clinical research that link inflammation and autoimmunity with depression and psychosis, including potential role of inflammation in treatment response, current evidence for the effectiveness of immune-modulating treatment for depression and psychosis, and possible role of inflammation in common physical comorbidities for these disorders such as coronary heart disease and diabetes mellitus. Gaining a better understanding of the role of immune system could be paradigm changing for psychiatry. We need collaborations between clinicians and scientists to deliver high-quality translational research in order to fully realise the clinical potential of this exciting and rapidly expanding field.

Keywords: Autoimmunity; autoantibody; cytokine; depression; immune system; immunopsychiatry; inflammation; mental disorders; psychiatry; schizophrenia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autoimmunity / immunology*
  • Depressive Disorder / drug therapy
  • Depressive Disorder / etiology
  • Depressive Disorder / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy / methods*
  • Inflammation / complications*
  • Inflammation / drug therapy
  • Schizophrenia / drug therapy
  • Schizophrenia / etiology
  • Schizophrenia / immunology*