Microglia Activation Causes Depression, Anxiety in Chronic Pain

June 11, 2015

Brain inflammation from chronic pain increases microglia activation, which inhibits the release of dopamine and may lead to depression and anxiety, according to a study published in The Journal of Neuroscience.

Although more than half of chronic pain patients experience depression, anxiety, or substance abuse, scientists were unable to determine what caused this association until now. In this study, the researchers sought to test if chronic pain disrupted the transmission of dopamine.

The researchers demonstrated that the activation of microglia in mice with chronic pain inhibited the release of dopamine. These results shed light on why opioids, which stimulate a dopamine response, can be ineffective for chronic pain patients.

The researchers instead tested a drug that inhibited the activation of microglia. This, they found, restored normal dopamine release and reward-motivated behavior in the mice.

“For over 20 years, scientists have been trying to unlock the mechanisms at work that connect opioid use, pain relief, depression and addiction,” said Catherine Cahill, PhD, of the University of California, Irvine. “Our findings represent a paradigm shift which has broad implications that are not restricted to the problem of pain and may translate to other disorders.”­

In future studies, the researchers hope to explore if mood disorders are caused by similar brain alterations, regardless of the presence of chronic pain.

Read more-

via Microglia Activation Causes Depression, Anxiety in Chronic Pain.

Read the full article at:

The Journal of Neuroscience

Microglia Disrupt Mesolimbic Reward Circuitry in Chronic Pain

2 thoughts on “Microglia Activation Causes Depression, Anxiety in Chronic Pain

  1. Very interesting article! I have chronic pain and it does lead to me feeling down and exhausted, because obviously anytime I’m in pain I’m just focusing on the pain, which is going to lead to thoughts of hopelessness and depression. Although researchers can be a bit technical, they lose the audience when bringing up terms that are difficult to understand and connect the dots. Good read! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Morning Personal Excellence!

      I agree that depression and hopelessness becomes exasperated by focusing on pain. It’s hard not to focus on hard pain. Heck, it hurts to hurt. I think what’s most important is that we don’t focus on any certain physical image or injury that causes the pain. If we do, it becomes the long term trigger. Looking at it several times a day,,or deeply dwelling on it, our brain is reminded and we just won’t be able to break our own cycle. There are so many factors that become involved after a physical injury. I first learned of glia, glia cell activation, microglia and it’s relationship to pain, a couple of years back. I’m glad more research is being done. People need to be medically treated as a whole not in bits and parts.

      Thank you for your comment. And you are most welcome.



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