Inflammation and Depression: A Public Health Perspective

Alexander L. Chu*, Matt Hickman, Nicholas Steel, Peter Jones, George Davey Smith, Golam Khandaker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial (Academic Journal)peer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
90 Downloads (Pure)


The multifaceted role of low-grade systemic inflammation in depression and physical illnesses like cardiovascular disease highlights complex interactions between the body, brain and mind. While current research on inflammation and depression has largely focused on exploring possible disease mechanisms and therapeutic potential, we seek to broaden the current discussion by introducing a public health perspective. In this Viewpoint, we propose that inflammation and its contributing sources could represent important targets for public health strategies aimed at improving both mental and physical health. We discuss potential universal, selective and indicated primary prevention strategies for inflammation-related depression. We consider potential approaches to secondary prevention, including scope for anti-inflammatory treatment and CRP testing for guiding treatment allocation and prognosis. Preventive strategies discussed here could also be relevant for other inflammation-mediated mental health conditions.v
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-3
Number of pages3
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity
Early online date18 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
GMK acknowledges funding support from the Wellcome Trust (grant code: 201486/Z/16/Z), the MQ: Transforming Mental Health (grant code: MQDS17/40), the Medical Research Council UK (grant code: MC_PC_17213 and MR/S037675/1) and the BMA Foundation (J Moulton grant 2019). GDS & GMK work in the Medical Research Council Integrative Epidemiology Unit (IEU) at the University of Bristol (MC_UU_00011/1). PBJ acknowledges funding from the MRC and MQ (grant code: MQDS17/40), programmatic funding from NIHR (RP-PG-0616-20003) and support from the Applied Research Collaboration East of England. MH acknowledges support from the NIHR BRC at Bristol and the NIHR HPRU in Behavioural Science and Evaluation.

Funding Information:
This research was funded in whole, or in part, by the Wellcome Trust [Grant number 201486/Z/16/Z]. For the purpose of open access, the author has applied a CC BY public copyright licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Funding Information:
We are grateful to Mr. Peter Templeton, Executive Director of IfM Education and Consultancy Service, a University of Cambridge knowledge transfer company, and Founder of the mental health charity The Foundation for Young People's Mental Health, for his helpful comments.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Inc.


  • Mental Health
  • Depression
  • Immunopsychiatry
  • Inflammation
  • Public Health
  • Prevention


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