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Inflammation, insulin resistance and neuroprogression in depression

  • Brian E. Leonard (a1) and Gregers Wegener (a2) (a3)


Chronic low-grade inflammation has been observed in major depression and other major psychiatric disorders and has been implicated in metabolic changes that are commonly associated with these disorders. This raises the possibility that the effects of dysfunctional metabolism may facilitate changes in neuronal structure and function which contribute to neuroprogression. Such changes may have implications for the progress from major depression to dementia in the elderly patient. The purpose of this review is to examine the contribution of inflammation and hypercortisolaemia, which are frequently associated with major depression, to neurodegeneration and how they detrimentally impact on brain energy metabolism. A key factor in these adverse events is insulin insensitivity caused by pro-inflammatory cytokines in association with desensitised glucocorticoid receptors. Identifying the possible metabolic changes initiated by inflammation opens new targets to ameliorate the adverse metabolic changes. This has resulted in the identification of dietary and drug targets which are of interest in the development of a new generation of psychotropic drugs.

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Author for correspondence: Brian E. Leonard, Email:


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