Secretariat, Alumni Association, IDAC
Date Monday, 29 January 2024, 14:00~
Room Smart-Aging building 4F Seminar Room, 4 Seiryomachi, Aoba Ward, Sendai, Miyagi
Title Old friend, new enemy: Cytomegalovirus, a hidden influencer of mental health.
Speaker Haixia Zheng
Affiliation Laureate Institute for Brain Research, Tulsa, OK, USA
Organizer Ye Zhang (Department of Aging Research and Geriatric Medicine・ext 8556)
Abstract Neuroinflammation has long been suspected as a key driver in various neuropsychiatric disorders, yet pinpointing its source has remained a challenge. Among potential contributors, neurotrophic herpesviruses, including Cytomegalovirus (CMV), have recently resurfaced in scientific discussions. CMV, a herpesvirus family member, is known for its ability to remain dormant in the human body for life, often reactivating under psychological stress or during inflammatory responses. Our research team has delved into CMV’s significant yet often overlooked role in neuropsychiatric conditions like major depressive disorder (MDD), schizophrenia, and outcomes from sports-related concussions. Through a comprehensive approach encompassing epidemiological studies, neuroimaging, and post-mortem analyses, we have uncovered compelling correlations between CMV seropositivity and several neurobiological markers. Our findings reveal notable changes in brain structure and function, including reduced gray matter volume, compromised white matter integrity, and diminished functional connectivity in key neural networks, especially in CMV-positive MDD patients. Furthermore, our investigations have highlighted a connection between CMV infection and neuroinflammation, evidenced by increased microglia activation and higher levels of inflammation-related gene expression. We propose a novel model suggesting that the immune response to CMV activity could directly or indirectly trigger neuroinflammation, which is crucial in altering brain microstructure and neurotransmitter systems involved in cognitive and mood regulation. This exploration into CMV’s role in mental health not only deepens our understanding of the inflamed biotype of neuropsychiatric disorders but also emphasizes the need to merge immunology with neuroscience to facilitate our strategies for improving patient outcomes in mental health.