King's College London

Research portal

Rescue of IL-1β−induced reduction of human neurogenesis by omega-3 fatty acids and antidepressants

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Alessandra Borsini, Silvia Alboni, Luis M Tojo, Mark A. Horowitz, Kuan-Pin Su, Giuseppe Cannazza, Carmine Maria Pariante, Patricia Ana Zunszain

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)230-238
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity
Early online date18 May 2017
Accepted/In press8 May 2017
E-pub ahead of print18 May 2017
PublishedOct 2017


King's Authors


Both increased inflammation and reduced neurogenesis have been associated with the pathophysiology of major depression. We have previously described how interleukin-1 (IL-1) β a pro-inflammatory cytokine increased in depressed patients, decreases neurogenesis in human hippocampal progenitor cells. Here, using the same human in vitro model, we show how omega-3 (ω-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids and conventional antidepressants reverse this reduction in neurogenesis, while differentially affecting the kynurenine pathway. We allowed neural cells to proliferate for 3 days and further differentiate for 7 days in the presence of IL-1β (10 ng/ml) and either the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor sertraline (1 µM), the serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor venlafaxine (1 µM), or the ω-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, 10 µM) or docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 10 µM). Co-incubation with each of these compounds reversed the IL-1β-induced reduction in neurogenesis (DCX- and MAP2-positive neurons), indicative of a protective effect. Moreover, EPA and DHA also reversed the IL-1β-induced increase in kynurenine, as well as mRNA levels of indolamine-2,3-dioxygenase (IDO); while DHA and sertraline reverted the IL-1β-induced increase in quinolinic acid and mRNA levels of kynurenine 3-monooxygenase (KMO). Our results show common effects of monoaminergic antidepressants and ω-3 fatty acids on the reduction of neurogenesis caused by IL-1β, but acting through both common and different kynurenine pathway-related mechanisms. Further characterization of their individual properties will be of benefit towards improving a future personalized medicine approach.

Download statistics

No data available

View graph of relations

© 2020 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454