Depression and Suicidal Thoughts Linked to Brain Inflammation

July 31, 2018

"A 2017 article by Sophie E. Holmes and colleagues in the journal Biological Psychiatry reports that people with major unipolar depression, especially those with suicidal thoughts, have higher levels of the inflammatory marker translocator protein than do healthy individuals.The participants with depression and suicidal thinking had high levels of translocator protein in the anterior cingulate cortex, which suggests that inflammation is affecting microglia.Many studies have found links between different indicators of inflammation and mood disorders, leading researchers to speculate whether targeting the immune system could be an effective way to treat mood disorders. Patients with high levels of inflammation often fail to respond to typical treatments for depression.Some previous research has found evidence of microglial activation in the brains of people who died from suicide.The small study by Holmes and colleagues used positron-emission tomography, or PET scans, to observe evidence of translocator protein levels in the brain in 14 medication-free participants in a major depressive episode and 13 healthy volunteers. Those with depression, and particularly those with suicidal thoughts, showed more evidence of neuroinflammation.

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