Diseases and mental illnesses that manifest across our lifetime may be linked to our body’s ability to fight off infections through fever – or febrile response – a potent mechanism for combating infection.
Based on a growing body of evidence, we now know that childhood adversity and inflammation both play critical roles in the diseases we develop later in life, such as, major depressive disorder, cancers, asthma, diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular diseases. However, the actual mechanism behind this link is ill-understood.
A new study by Ludmer Centre researchers at the Douglas University Mental Health Institute, Dr Michael Meaney, Dr Tie-Yuan Zhang and colleagues in the Sackler Program for Epigenetics & Psychobiology, sheds light on the possible mechanism behind this.
The study looked at children’s febrile response and the mother’s care, which is known to influences a child’s febrile response, hence, the ability to combat infection. The specifically looked at glucocorticoid receptors, which regulate the genes controlling development, metabolism and, crucially, immune response.
The researchers found that, in rats, individual differences in glucocorticoid-receptor sensitivity seemed to modulate the differences in the febrile response, exerting a long-term influence on a child’s capacity to recover from infection.
A clear understanding of this mechanism will inform prevention interventions and programs.
Publication: Carine Parent, Huy-Binh Nguyen, Xianglan Wen, Josie Diorio, Michael J. Meaney, Tie Yuan Zhang. Maternal care modulates the febrile response to lipopolysaccharide through differences in glucocorticoid receptor sensitivity in the rat. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 10 May 2017.
- Sackler Program for Epigenetics and Psychobiology at McGill University, Montreal, Canada
- Douglas Mental Health University Institute, Montreal, Canada
- Department of Psychiatry, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
- Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences, Singapore