Molecular pathways linking depression and inflammation

Clinical depression is a long-lasting and often recurring disease, involving feelings of oppressive sadness, fatigue, guilt, loneliness, worthlessness and helplessness. These psychological symptoms cause distress and also threaten the physical health of depressed people. Recent research has shown that people suffering from clinical depression are at greater risk of developing coronary heart disease. People who become depressed after a heart attack are three to four times more likely to die from cardiac disease. But it is unclear why this occurs. Dr. Nicolas Rohleder is studying whether the mechanisms that normally control the immune system stop functioning properly in people with depression. It’s known that the immune systems of depressed people produce more inflammatory molecules, which foster atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries), the inflammatory condition that is the main cause of coronary heart disease. Nicolas is investigating the molecular mechanisms that link depression with inflammation, which could ultimately lead to new therapies to reduce the risk of chronic heart disease in depressed people.