Neurochemical Research

, Volume 39, Issue 9, pp 1634–1639 | Cite as

Neuroimmunomodulation in Depression: A Review of Inflammatory Cytokines Involved in this Process

  • Helena M. Abelaira
  • Gislaine Z. Réus
  • Fabricia Petronilho
  • Tatiana Barichello
  • João Quevedo


Depression is a debilitating mental disease that affects a large number of people globally; however the pathophysiological mechanisms of this disease remain incompletely understood. Some studies have shown that depression is associated with inflammatory activity, and the mode of action of several antidepressants appears to involve immunomodulation. In this case, the induction of a pro-inflammatory state in healthy or depressive subjects induces a ‘sickness behaviour’ resembling depressive symptomatology. Potential mechanisms of pro-inflammatory cytokines are effects on monoamine levels, disruption of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis, activation of the pathological microglial cells, such as the macrophages and alterations in neuroplasticity and brain functions. Thus, this review will highlight the role of inflammation in depression, the possible mechanisms involved, and also explore effective treatments that act on the immune system.


Cytokines Inflammation Antidepressants Depression 



Laboratory of Neurosciences (Brazil) is a center within the National Institute for Translational Medicine (INCT-TM) and is also a member of the Center of Excellence in Applied Neurosciences of Santa Catarina (NENASC). This research was supported by grants from CNPq (JQ and GZR), FAPESC (JQ), Instituto Cérebro e Mente, UNESC (JQ and TB), and and L´Oréal/UNESCO/ABC Brazil Fellowship for Women in Science 2011 (GZR). JQ and TB are CNPq Research Fellows. HMA has CAPES studentships. We thank Allan M. Colladel for making the Fig. 1.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helena M. Abelaira
    • 1
  • Gislaine Z. Réus
    • 1
    • 2
  • Fabricia Petronilho
    • 2
    • 3
  • Tatiana Barichello
    • 1
    • 2
  • João Quevedo
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratório de Neurociências, Unidade Acadêmica de Ciências da Saúde, Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ciências da SaúdeUniversidade do Extremo Sul CatarinenseCriciúmaBrazil
  2. 2.Center for Experimental Models in Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesThe University of Texas Medical School at HoustonHoustonUSA
  3. 3.Laboratório de Fisiopatologia Clínica e Experimental, Programa de Pós-graduação em Ciências da SaúdeUniversidade do Sul de Santa CatarinaTubarãoBrazil

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