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Depression May Increase Susceptibility to Bowel Disease

Treatment with tricyclic antidepressants reduces intestinal inflammation

MONDAY, May 5 (HealthDay News) -- Depressed mice are more vulnerable to developing inflammatory bowel disease, and treatment with tricyclic antidepressants reduces intestinal inflammation, researchers report in the May issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Jean-Eric Ghia, Ph.D., and colleagues from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, induced depressive behavior in mice and examined the effect on their susceptibility to experimentally induced colitis. The susceptibility of mice that had undergone vagotomy and pyloroplasty or macrophage depletion was also examined.

The researchers found that depression impaired the ability of the vagus nerve to inhibit pro-inflammatory macrophages, and treatment with tricyclic antidepressants restored vagal function and reduced intestinal inflammation. This suggests that depression "produced a vulnerability to colitis by a mechanism involving parasympathetic transmission and the presence of gut macrophages," the authors write.

"Together these results illustrate the critical role of the vagus in both the vulnerability to inflammation induced by depressive-like conditions and the protection afforded by tricyclic antidepressants, and rationalize a clinical evaluation of both parasympathomimetics and tricyclic antidepressants in treatment of inflammatory bowel disease," Ghia and colleagues conclude.

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