A role for pro-inflammatory cytokines and their neuroinflammatory signaling cascades in depressive pathology has increasingly gained acceptance. In this regard, several lines of evidence suggested that interleukin-1β (IL-1β) and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) can provoke neurochemical and hormonal changes akin to those associated with psychological stressors, and that these cytokines also induce sickness behaviors that resemble some of the neurovegetative features of depression. Similarly, human depressed patients often display marked changes of pro-inflammatory cytokine levels and immune cell activity. Perhaps more germane in the analysis of the cytokine-depression connection, reports of humans undergoing interferon-α (IFN-α) treatment for certain cancers or viral infections have indicated that the pro-inflammatory cytokine caused signs of major depression in a substantial subset of those treated. In the present investigation, we demonstrated that acute or repeated infusion of IFN-α into the lateral ventricles provoked depressive-like behavior and concomitant changes in serotonin (5-HT) and mRNA expression of particular 5-HT receptors and pro-inflammatory cytokines. These actions were less evident following administration directly into the prefrontal cortex and not apparent at all when administered to the dorsal raphe nucleus. The data are discussed in relation to the induction of depression elicited by IFN-α, and are presented in the context of a mini-review that highlights potential mechanisms through which the cytokine might act to promote psychomotor and affective disturbances and interact with stressors.

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Keywords Cytokine, Depression, Interferon, Serotonin
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbi.2012.07.023
Journal Brain Behavior and Immunity
Hayley, S, Scharf, J. (Jeff), & Anisman, H. (2013). Central administration of murine interferon-α induces depressive-like behavioral, brain cytokine and neurochemical alterations in mice: A mini-review and original experiments. Brain Behavior and Immunity, 31, 115–127. doi:10.1016/j.bbi.2012.07.023