Research: MOODINFLAME, PSYCH-AID AND MOODSTRATIFICATION
MOODSTRATIFICATION.EU reflects the results from EU funded research on how imbalances in the immune system are able to cause mood disorders. The hypothesis in this research is that at least part of the major mood disorders, like bipolar disorder (BD), major depressive disorder (MDD) and postpartum psychosis (PP), are the result of a systemic abnormal condition of imbalances in the T cell system and a proneness to inflammation. This immune condition may also lead to various autoimmune diseases (such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis – which is more frequent in patients with major mood disorders).
In the view of the researchers of MOODINFLAME, PSYCH-AID AND MOODSTRATIFICATION major mood disorders are thus largely caused by an immune mediated dysfunction and mild chronic inflammation of certain brain areas important for mood regulation, such as the limbic system. We reflect this hypothesis on the following page: immune neurological model.
The EU funded research on this model started in 2008 by the MOODINFLAME project (2008 – 2012), followed by PSYCH-AID (2013-2017) and the current project MOODSTRATIFICATION (2018-2022). Read more about these projects in the following texts:
MOODINFLAME (2008-2012): constructing a new pathogenesis model
In MOODINFLAME a new model of the origin, development and progress of mood disorders was constructed, based on studies of animal model systems and advanced assays to detect immune imbalances in patients and individuals at risk for major mood disorders. The imbalances reflect an abnormal equilibrium between neuronal cells, hormones and cells of the immune system in the brain (including microglia, macrophages and T cells), resulting in an abnormal proneness to inflammation in both the brain as well as in peripheral tissues (since the equilibrium is also disturbed in all sorts of organs and tissues outside the brain). In the model the investigators identify two stages in the development of a severe mood disorder. In the first stage there are not yet symptoms of a mood disorder, but there are already biological markers of an abnormal equilibrium of the T cell system in general, which disturbs the interaction between the endocrine (=hormone) system, the immune system and the neurological system. This results in a disturbed development of the brain, in particular in areas important for mood regulation, learning and an adequate responsiveness to stress.
Download: Summary of the MOODINFLAME Project (2008 – 2012).
PSYCH-AID (2012-2016): developing clinical applicable blood assays
The immune and endocrine (=hormone level) tests used in MOODINFLAME were further refined, validated and sometimes already registered in PSYCH-AID, in combination with the results of another EU-FP7 project: SchizDX. These laboratory tests focused on immune functions reflecting the imbalanced immune system and the activated inflammatory response system in conjunction with an abnormal neuro -endocrine equilibrium. The aim of PSYCH-AID was the development of clinically applicable blood assays identifying patients and other individuals with such altered neuro-immuno-endocrine profile and at risk for major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder. To realize this, the efforts of academia and industry were combined in a cooperation with 9 European partners, excelling in this field: 5 academia and 4 SME’s.
Download: Summary of PSYCH-AID (2013-2017)
MOODSTRATIFICATION (2018-2022): Stratifying patients on the basis of immune diagnosis and subsequent treatment on the basis of the immune diagnosis
At the moment 12 European research institutes cooperate in the project MOODSTRATIFICATION. The research teams look for refined immune signatures in patients with unipolar and bipolar depressions, by further exploring the MOODINFLAME data and other datasets in more detail. The background hypothesis in this project is that a large proportion of recurrent and severe mood disorders are caused by the single action or the combination of:
- (Inborn and acquired) T cell imbalances which result in mal development and functioning of the brain, and lead to flares of chronic inflammation, further impacting brain function
- Childhood trauma (mainly emotional and sexual) leading to a high inflammatory state of the immune system.
The aim of the MOODSTRATIFICATION project is to develop further evidence for this hypothesis and to develop simple blood tests to measure the above mentioned immune imbalances in clinical practice. Also various therapy trials will take place with T cell enforcing and anti-inflammatory treatments on patients with mood disorders and T cell imbalances.
Download: objective of the project MOODSTRATIFICATION (2018-2022).