New research findings from a study conducted at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City could provide a new way to diagnose and better treat depression, the Huffington Post reports. The findings, presented this week at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego, suggest that the levels of a molecule linked to inflammation may play a role in causing depressive symptoms linked to social stress.
2012 NARSAD Young Investigator Grantee, Georgia Hodes, Ph.D., was part of the research team. They used mice models to study social stress and social defeat and found that high levels of a pro-inflammatory chemical of the immune system, interleukin 6 (IL-6), were linked to depressive symptoms in the mice in response to social defeat. Resilient mice, not exhibiting depressive symptoms after social defeat, had low levels of IL-6.
“This study changes the way we understand the relationship between our immune system and stress responses that can lead to depression,” says Dr. Hodes. “We now know that a specific reaction in the immune system actually predates, predicts and can shape how we'll respond to stress.”
"This may represent a legitimate biomarker for depression and could represent a new chapter in the effort to accurately diagnose and better treat mood disorders,” she went on to say.