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Microglial Activation May Contribute to Depression in MS

December 17, 2015

Hippocampal microglial activation in a small group of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) correlated with depression symptoms, suggesting that altered functional connectivity may contribute to the pathogenesis of depression.

Depression is known to be more prevalent in MS patients as compared to the general population and many studies have linked depression and the burden of the disease. The authors of the current study, published in Biological Psychiatry, suggest that, “the association arises from a common, underlying factor that contributes to pathophysiological changes for both MS and depression.”

Depression was assessed using the Beck's Depression Inventory in 11 MS patients and 22 healthy control participants. Scans were used to highlight microglial activation within the hippocampus and functional MRI was used to assess the relationship between functional connectivity in the hippocampus and depression symptoms. Six of the MS patients were taking antidepressants and 10 were on disease-modifying drugs.

Overall, participants with MS had a higher mean Beck's Depression Inventory score, and 6 of them met the criteria for a major depressive episode. The authors noted correlations in MS patients between the Beck's Depression Inventory scores and DVR with functional connectivity of the hippocampus.

“…Our findings suggest that mediators of innate immunity in the hippocampus play a significant role in the pathophysiology of the affective dysregulation associated with MS.”