The discoveries in psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) need to be translated into clinical care and better quality of life for patients. Such translational efforts are especially meaningful for the treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders with the elucidation of the bidirectional interactions between the central nervous system (CNS) and the immune system (Hou and Baldwin, 2012).
Specifically, the discovery of biomarkers via PNI studies can be applied for more accurate diagnosis and more comprehensive treatments. Because inflammation has the essential roles in psychoneuroimmunology processes, inflammatory biomarkers can be critical in the connections between psychosocial factors and pathological conditions and symptoms.
For example, the alterations in cytokine signaling pathways in the brain may cause behavioral problems (Hou et al., 2013). Cytokines have been found with important roles in major depression (Hou and Baldwin, 2012). Antidepressants have also been observed to have immunomodulating effects. In anxiety disorders, different cytokines may be involved in the neuronal communications associated with various problems (Hou and Baldwin, 2012).
More studies in psychoneuroimmunology are still needed to reveal the reciprocal connections between anxiety disorders and inflammation. The identification of relevant biomarkers would contribute to the discovery of better therapeutic targets for these disorders.
Hou R, Baldwin DS. A neuroimmunological perspective on anxiety disorders. Hum Psychopharmacol. 2012 Jan;27(1):6-14. doi: 10.1002/hup.1259.
Hou R, Tang Z, Baldwin DS. Potential neuroimmunological targets in the treatment of anxiety disorders. Mod Trends Pharmacopsychiatry. 2013;29:67-84. doi: 10.1159/000351965.