The brain and immune system prompt energy shortage in chronic inflammation and ageing

Nat Rev Rheumatol. 2017 Dec;13(12):743-751. doi: 10.1038/nrrheum.2017.172. Epub 2017 Oct 12.


Sequelae frequently seen in patients with chronic inflammatory diseases, such as fatigue, depressed mood, sleep alterations, loss of appetite, muscle wasting, cachectic obesity, bone loss and hypertension, can be the result of energy shortages caused by an overactive immune system. These sequelae can also be found in patients with chronic inflammatory diseases that are in remission and in ageing individuals, despite the immune system being less active in these situations. This Perspectives article proposes a new way of understanding situations of chronic inflammation (such as rheumatic diseases) and ageing based on the principles of evolutionary medicine, energy regulation and neuroendocrine-immune crosstalk. A conceptual framework is provided to enable physicians and scientists to better understand the signs and symptoms of chronic inflammatory diseases and long-term disease consequences resulting from physical and mental inactivity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Immune System / metabolism*
  • Inflammation / metabolism*
  • Memory / physiology