Therapeutic strategies for treatment of inflammation-related depression

Miroslav Adzic, Zeljka Brkic, Milos Mitic, Ester Francija, Milica J. Jovicic, Jelena Radulovic, Nadja P. Maric

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


Background: Mounting evidence demonstrates enhanced systemic levels of inflammatory mediators in depression, indicating that inflammation may play a role in the etiology and course of mood disorders. Indeed, proinflammatory cytokines induce a behavioral state of conservation-withdrawal resembling human depression, characterized by negative mood, fatigue, anhedonia, psychomotor retardation, loss of appetite, and cognitive deficits. Neuroinflammation also contributes to non-responsiveness to current antidepressant (AD) therapies. Namely, response to conventional AD medications is associated with a decrease in inflammatory biomarkers, whereas resistance to treatment is accompanied by increased inflammation. Methods: In this review, we will discuss the utility and shortcomings of pharmacologic AD treatment strategies focused on inflammatory pathways, applied alone or as an adjuvant component to current AD therapies. Results: Mechanisms of cytokine actions on behavior involve activation of inflammatory pathways in the brain, resulting in changes of neurotransmitter metabolism, neuroendocrine function, and neuronal plasticity. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors exhibit the most beneficial effects in restraining the inflammation markers in depression. Different anti-inflammatory agents exhibit AD effects via modulating neurotransmitter systems, neuroplasticity markers and glucocorticoid receptor signaling. Anti-inflammatory add-on therapy in depression highlights such treatment as a candidate for enhancement strategy in patients with moderate-to-severe depression. Conclusion: The interactions between the immune system and CNS are not only involved in shaping behavior, but also in responding to therapeutics. Even though, substantial evidence from animal and human research support a beneficial effect of anti-inflammatory add-on therapy in depression, further research with special attention on safety, particularly during prolonged periods of anti-inflammatory co-treatments, is required.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)176-209
Number of pages34
JournalCurrent Neuropharmacology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Antidepressants
  • Depression
  • Inflammation
  • Side effects
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'Therapeutic strategies for treatment of inflammation-related depression'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this