Cytokines, Monoamines and Behavior

Re: Illness, Cytokines, and Depression

Raz Yirmiya

On Tue Dec 8, Hymie Anisman wrote
>Raz -- I enjoyed reading your paper. I was amazed that you were able to get volunteers for your study of endotoxin effects on mood. I'm wondering what the physical effects were in these subjects. Was the dose sufficiently high to produce overt illness?

>Also, would you know of ongoing studies assessing IL-1ra in humans, alone or as an adjunct, in treating depression?

Dear Hymie,

Thanks for your interest in the paper. The dose of endotoxin that we used (0.8 ng/kg) produced mild
symptoms of overt illness, including low fever (0.5-1 degree), cortisol elevation and mild
headache and muscle pain (mainly at 2, but not at 4 or  9 hr post-injection).
Thus, some of the psychological findings seem to be dissociated from
the clinical symptoms.

I do not know of any experiment with IL-1ra in depressed patients. I discussed this idea with  Steve Maier a few years ago,
but so far nothing came out of it. I should emphasize that IL-1ra by itself may not be an effective antidepressant since if
there is some source of immune/stress-like cytokinergic activation in depressed patients it
is probably mediated by several cytokines in addition to IL-1. As you show in your
research, and as we find in our recent studies, cytokines probably act in a synergistic and
complementary manner. Thus, compounds with a more general cytokine-suppressing
activity may be needed to alleviate immune-associated depression.

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