Immune Response and Inflammation
Dr. Datis Kharrazian, DHSc, DC, MNeuroSci has spent the last decade researching and teaching functional neurology, autoimmune disorders, chronic illness, and other related subjects.
In his book Why Isn’t My Brain Working?, Kharrazian posits that a weakened blood-brain barrier is the pathway toward brain inflammation.
When this thin sheath of tissue that protects the brain is compromised, it leads to “leaky brain”, similar to leaky gut. If the blood-brain barrier is breached, the way opens to pathogens.
With the introduction of pathogens comes the activation of microglia, which ultimately leads to brain inflammation. (11)
There are many conditions that can trigger microglia’s immune response activity in the brain, leading to inflammation, oxidative stress, neuron damage, and brain degeneration, including (12):
- Parkinson’s disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Huntington’s disease
- cerebral ischemia (stroke)
- multiple sclerosis
- AIDS dementia
- traumatic brain injury
- diabetic retinopathy
- glaucoma (13)
- zinc deficiency
- severe infection
- excess cortisol
- gut bacteria imbalance.
Brain Inflammation and Depression
In the past ten years, studies of patients with major depression have uncovered a common theme that initially surprised researchers: inflammation in the brain.
“Neuroimmune mechanisms are now viewed as central to the development of depressive symptoms and emerging evidence is beginning to identify the neural circuits involved in cytokine-induced depression.” (14)
The original theoretical basis for anti-depressant medications was based on the regulation of neurotransmitters that influence mood and emotion. (15) Low levels of serotonin or norepinephrine in particular are thought to be a significant factor in the incidence of anxiety and depression.
Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRI) act to stimulate the production of serotonin and norepinephrine (which are similar in structure to dopamine) in the brain and keep the levels up. (16)
Other types of anti-depressants tinker with other chemicals in the brain to stimulate communication between neurons and influence neural receptors. (17)
SSRI do stimulate the production of serotonin. They also counteract the actions of inflammatory cytokines. It may be the anti-inflammatory properties of these drugs that relieve the symptoms of depression and not the serotonin alone. (18)