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Depression

Neuroinflammation marker associated with episodes of major depression

Translocator protein density – a marker of neuroinflammation – is higher in the brains of patients experiencing a major depressive episode

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Patients experiencing a major depressive episode have higher levels of the inflammatory marker translocator protein in their brains compared with healthy controls

Accumulating evidence suggests a role for inflammation in generating the symptoms of a major depressive episode (MDE). The so-called ‘neuroinflammatory hypothesis’ is bolstered by research showing that translocator protein density (TSPO VT) – a marker of neuroinflammation – is higher in the brains of patients experiencing a MDE compared with mentally healthy controls.

The researchers used positron emission tomography to scan the brains of 20 patients with MDE, who were medication-free and otherwise healthy, and 20 controls. TSPO VT was 26–33% higher in MDE patients versus control. Also, greater TSPO VT in the anterior cingulate cortex correlated with more severe depression.

Neuroinflammation in specific regions “may contribute to sickness behaviours that overlap with the symptoms of MDE”, write the authors in JAMA Psychiatry (online, 28 January 2015)[1]

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2015.20067825

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  • Translocator protein density – a marker of neuroinflammation – is higher in the brains of patients experiencing a major depressive episode

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