Inflamed brain: Targeting immune changes and inflammation for treatment of depression

Shinji Sakamoto, Xiaolei Zhu, Yuto Hasegawa, Sadik Karma, Mizuho Obayashi, Emily Alway, Atsushi Kamiya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although there are a number of clinically effective treatments for depression, many patients exhibit treatment resistance. Recent clinical and preclinical studies reveal that peripheral and brain immune changes and inflammation are involved in the pathophysiology of depression. This ‘Inflamed Brain’ research provides critical clues for understanding of disease pathophysiology and many candidate molecules that are potentially useful for identifying novel drug targets for the treatment of depression. In this review, we will present clinical evidence on the role of inflammation in the pathophysiology of depression. We will also summarize current clinical trials which test drugs targeting inflammation for the treatment of patients with depression. Furthermore, we will briefly provide preclinical evidence demonstrating altered immune system function and inflammation in stress-induced animal models and will discuss the future potential of inflammation-related drug targets. Collectively, inflammatory signatures identified in clinical and preclinical studies may allow us to stratify depressive patients based on biotypes, contributing to the development of novel mechanism-based interventions that target specific patient populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)304-311
Number of pages8
JournalPsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • biotype
  • depression
  • drug-repositioning
  • inflammation
  • stress mouse models

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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