Immunological research in clinical psychiatry: report on the consensus debate during the 7th expert meeting on psychiatry and immunology
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Arolt, V; Rothermundt, M; Peters, M; Leonard, B (2002). Immunological research in clinical psychiatry: report on the consensus debate during the 7th expert meeting on psychiatry and immunology. Molecular Psychiatry 7 (8), 822-826
There is convincing evidence that cytokines are involved in the physiology and pathophysiology of brain function and interact with different neurotransmitter and neuroendocrine pathways. The possible involvement of the immune system in the neurobiological mechanisms that underlie psychiatric disorders has attracted increasing attention in recent years. Thus in the last decade, numerous clinical studies have demonstrated dysregulated immune functions in patients with psychiatric disorders. Such findings formed the basis of the 7th Expert Meeting on Psychiatry and Immunology in Muenster, Germany, where a consensus symposium was held to consider the strengths and weaknesses of current research in psychoneuroimmunology. Following a general overview of the field, the following topics were discussed: (1) methodological problems in laboratory procedures and recruitment of clinical samples; (2) the importance of pre-clinical research and animal models in psychiatric research; (3) the problem of statistical vs biological relevance. It was concluded that, despite a fruitful proliferation of research activities throughout the last decade, the continuous elaboration of methodological standards including the implementation of hypothesis-driven research represents a task that is likely to prove crucial for the future development of immunology research in clinical psychiatry.