Inflammation and Depression
May 26, 2005
 
Patients who receive immunotherapy for the treatment of cancer, AIDS and other diseases may become depressed. And that depression can interfere with their treatment.

University of Illinois researcher Keith Kelley is working with another scientist in France to learn about the effects of inflammation on the brain that lead to the feeling of pain and its connection with depression.

Kelley says that depression is still considered to be a condition that's independent of the disease patients are being treated for, but that depression can make the disease worse.

Immunotherapy, involves the injections of chemicals called cytokines that boost the immune system and kill infected or cancerous cells. But the treatment depletes serotonin and that leads to the symptoms of depression. When the patient becomes depressed, the treatment is discontinued, leaving the patient with the disease. Another choice is to maintain the immunotherapy and give the patients anti-depressants.

Kelley explains that scientists have always known that behavioral changes and sickness go hand in hand. This research will try to find out why.