JAN 27, 2021 9:32 AM PST

Immune Cells in Brain Create Feelings of Depression

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

Researchers from Linköping University in Sweden have found that microglia, the brain’s immune cells, play a key role in generating feelings of unease and depression during periods of inflammation, such as from a common cold or the flu. 

Earlier research has found that microglial cells are activated in neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and that people affected by these conditions often fall into a negative mood. Meanwhile, other research has proposed that inflammatory processes may play a role in depression. As such, the researchers from Linköping decided to see whether microglial cells play a role in mood regulation during inflammation.

To do so, the researchers used a technique known as chemogenetics to activate the microglial cells in mice when kept in different surroundings. In doing so, they found that mice would subsequently avoid this type of surrounding, signaling to the researchers that they did not like the experience. They also became less tempted by a sweet solution, which they usually find very interesting. 

To verify the role of microglial cells in this process, the researchers then sought to see what happened once they were deactivated. When deactivated, they found that even when mice had inflammation, they did not display negative behaviors. As such, the researchers concluded that microglial cells are likely necessary for the feelings of ‘not feeling well’ and withdrawal that many face when battling a cold or flu. 

“Our results show that the activation of microglial cells is sufficient to create aversion and negative mood in mice. It’s natural to suggest that similar processes take place in several human diseases. It’s not unlikely that activated microglia contribute to the discomfort and depressed mood in people with inflammatory and neurological diseases”, says David Engblom, lead author of the study. 

 

Sources: Neuroscience NewsCell

About the Author
  • Science writer with keen interests in technology and behavioral biology. Her current focus is on the interplay between these fields to create meaningful interactions, applications and environments.
You May Also Like
DEC 16, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
A Close Connection Between Two Organelles is ID'ed
DEC 16, 2020
A Close Connection Between Two Organelles is ID'ed
The cell has many specialized components that perform specific functions, like an organelle called the endoplasmic retic ...
DEC 31, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Silent Mice Drive Autism Gene Discovery
DEC 31, 2020
Silent Mice Drive Autism Gene Discovery
Around 1 in 54 children in the U.S. are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, a broad range of conditions tha ...
FEB 10, 2021
Drug Discovery & Development
Ketamine Reduces Suicidal Thoughts in Patients with Depression
FEB 10, 2021
Ketamine Reduces Suicidal Thoughts in Patients with Depression
Ketamine has been known for some time for its ability to tackle depression. Now, however, researchers have found that or ...
MAR 16, 2021
Clinical & Molecular DX
A Blood Test for Predicting if You'll Live to 100
MAR 16, 2021
A Blood Test for Predicting if You'll Live to 100
In 2012, a United Nations report estimated that there are over 316,000 people worldwide over the age of 100. What’ ...
APR 02, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
A New Neurodevelopmental Disorder is ID'ed
APR 02, 2021
A New Neurodevelopmental Disorder is ID'ed
Researchers have identified a genetic disease that causes neurodevelopmental disorders in some affected kids. The diseas ...
APR 15, 2021
Neuroscience
Alcohol Metabolism in the Brain Causes Intoxicated Behavior
APR 15, 2021
Alcohol Metabolism in the Brain Causes Intoxicated Behavior
Researchers from the University of Maryland have found that the effects of alcohol intoxication, like slurred speech and ...
Loading Comments...