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David Engblom

Circuits and molecular mechanisms behind aversion and negative affective states

Most diseases negatively affect the quality of life. Sometimes this is due to loss of specific bodily functions, such as vision or memory, but often it is due to unspecific symptoms that cause suffering and induce a negative affective state.

Such symptoms include pain, nausea, irritability as well as general feelings of discomfort induced by pathological processes such as inflammation or cancer. The problem of sickness-induced suffering is very broad. In milder versions, it affects most people every year, for example in the form of colds, the flu, gastroenteritis or tension headache.

During chronic inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis, feelings of discomfort results in a lower quality of life and an increased incidence of overt depression. Finally, very strong aversive states often accompany terminal stages of diseases such as cancer. Importantly, the suffering associated with disease could in principle be eliminated if we knew the underlying mechanisms and could find means by which to interfere with them. Thus, the level of well-being is controlled by neuronal signaling in the brain and control of such signaling is, in principle, sufficient to block or generate any given affective state.

Apart from the obvious role in somatic inflammatory diseases, inflammatory modulation of mood circuits has also been forwarded as a key factor in the development of depression. Thus, knowledge about inflammation-induced regulation of mood has implications both for inflammatory diseases and psychiatric disorders. We study the molecular mechanism and neuronal circuits behind sickness-induced aversion and depression.

Our approach is based on cell-type and region-specific gene deletions and methods for manipulation of neuronal activity of selected circuits (chemo- and optogenetics) in the mouse. In addition we study the mechanisms behind inflammation-induced loss of appetite and fever. Finally we investigate the mechanisms underpinning the reward induced by addictive drugs.

Webb-TV: Fevered and depressed: How does the brain respond to inflammation? (Swedish)

David Engblom

Name: David Engblom
Position: Associate Professor of Neuro Biology
Department: IKE


Phone: +46 (0)10-103 84 48
E-post: david.engblom@liu.se

Linköping University
Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine
Cell Biology
SE-581 85 Linköping

Visiting Address:
Cell Biology
Entrance 64, level 11
Campus US

Related information

The brain and the nervous system

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Last updated: Wed Mar 22 13:07:57 CET 2017