Inflammatory cytokines, which are released by activated immune cells after tissue injury or infection, not only play an important role in local and systemic immune regulation but also have an impact on the brain via various afferent pathways, ultimately affecting behavior, mood, and cognitive functions. These central effects of systemic inflammation encompass a broad spectrum of symptoms such as fatigue, anorexia, anhedonia, depressed mood, increased anxiety as well as hyperalgesia, known as “sickness behavior”. Under acute conditions, sickness behavior is a highly adaptive process that conserves energy and supports recovery. However, findings from experimental and clinical studies indicate that systemic inflammation is also a critical factor in the etiology and pathophysiology of neuropsychiatric disorders and chronic pain conditions. Using low-dose experimental endotoxemia as a model of acute systemic inflammation in animals and healthy human volunteers, we investigate the molecular, biochemical and neurobiological underpinnings of inflammation-induced changes in behavior, mood and cognition. Furthermore, in translational studies with patients suffering from chronic inflammatory diseases (e.g. colitis ulcerosa, psoriasis) we aim to identify new therapeutic targets for the treatment of inflammation-induced mood disorders.
Sven Benson, Harald Engler
German Research Foundation (DFG)
SFB 1280 „Extinction Learning“, TP A12
TRR-SFB 289 „Treatment Expectation“, TP A10, A11, A12
The Institute of Medical Psychology was founded in 1978 and is one of the pre-clinical Departments of the Essen University Hospital.
Institute of Medical Psychology and Behavioral Immunobiology
University Hospital Essen
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