The role of immune activation in psychiatric disorders has attracted considerable attention over the past two decades, contributing to the rise of a new era for psychiatry. Microglia, the macrophages of the brain, are progressively becoming the main focus of the research in this field. In this Review, we assess the literature on microglia activation across different psychiatric disorders, including post-mortem and in-vivo studies in humans and experimental studies in animals. Although microglia activation has been noted in all types of psychiatric disorder, no association was seen with specific diagnostic categories. Furthermore, the findings from these studies highlight that not all psychiatric patients have microglial activation. Therefore, the cause of the neuroinflammation in these cohorts and its implications are unclear. We discuss psychosocial stress as one of the main factors determining microglial activation in patients with psychiatric disorders, and explore the relevance of these findings for future treatment strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)563-572
JournalThe Lancet Psychiatry
Issue number7
Early online date25 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017


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