Neuroinflammation disorders exacerbated by environmental stressors

Metabolism. 2019 Nov;100S:153951. doi: 10.1016/j.metabol.2019.153951.


Neuroinflammation is a condition characterized by the elaboration of proinflammatory mediators within the central nervous system. Neuroinflammation has emerged as a dominant theme in contemporary neuroscience due to its association with neurodegenerative disease states such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and Huntington's disease. While neuroinflammation often is associated with damage to the CNS, it also can occur in the absence of neurodegeneration, e.g., in association with systemic infection. The "acute phase" inflammatory response to tissue injury or infections instigates neuroinflammation-driven "sickness behavior," i.e. a constellation of symptoms characterized by loss of appetite, fever, muscle pain, fatigue and cognitive problems. Typically, sickness behavior accompanies an inflammatory response that resolves quickly and serves to restore the body to homeostasis. However, recurring and sometimes chronic sickness behavior disorders can occur in the absence of an underlying cause or attendant neuropathology. Here, we review myalgic enchepalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), Gulf War Illness (GWI), and chemobrain as examples of such disorders and propose that they can be exacerbated and perhaps initiated by a variety of environmental stressors. Diverse environmental stressors may disrupt the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis and contribute to the degree and duration of a variety of neuroinflammation-driven diseases.

Keywords: Chemobrain “sickness behavior” stressors; GWI; ME/CFS; Neuroimmune; Neuroinflammation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / etiology
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System / physiopathology
  • Inflammation / etiology*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / etiology*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / pathology
  • Persian Gulf Syndrome / etiology