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Inflammatory mechanisms, the immune system, and psychiatric illness 

Inflammatory mechanisms, the immune system, and psychiatric illness
Inflammatory mechanisms, the immune system, and psychiatric illness

Ozan Toy

, Emmalee Boyle

, and Lynn E. DeLisi

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date: 09 May 2021

The association between the immune system and mental illnesses has been studied extensively over the years. Specifically, inflammation or abnormalities in immune system factors have been linked to stress, depression, and schizophrenia. The incidence of schizophrenia has been observed to be increased following viral epidemics, and the presence of increased antibodies to viral and other infectious agents has been linked to the illness. In this chapter, the landmark studies supporting the association between inflammation and mental illness are cited, from the early epidemiological studies of viral epidemics, to searches in post-mortem brains for gliosis, to genetic predisposition, and, most recently, to direct evidence of inflammation by measurement of free-water content in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Ultimately, medications that restore the immune system may lead to improvement of the major psychiatric disorders.

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