van Buel EM, Patas K, Peters M, Bosker FJ, Eisel UL, Klein HC

A low-grade inflammatory response is commonly seen in the peripheral blood of major depressive disorder (MDD) patients, especially those with refractory and chronic disease courses. However, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), the most drastic intervention reserved for these patients, is closely associated with an enhanced haematogenous as well as neuroinflammatory immune response, as evidenced by both human and animal studies. A related line of experimental evidence further shows that inflammatory stimulation reinforces neurotrophin expression and may even mediate dramatic neurogenic and antidepressant-like effects following exposure to chronic stress. The current review therefore attempts a synthesis of our knowledge on the neurotrophic and immunological aspects of ECT and other electrically based treatments in psychiatry. Perhaps contrary to contemporary views, we conclude that targeted potentiation, rather than suppression, of inflammatory responses may be of therapeutic relevance to chronically depressed patients or a subgroup thereof.

Transl Psychiatry. 2015;5:e609

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