B3922 - Understanding the role of inflammation in cognitive function and depression - 29/11/2021

B number: 
Principal applicant name: 
Hannah Jones | University of Bristol (United Kingdom)
Ms Eimear Foley
Title of project: 
Understanding the role of inflammation in cognitive function and depression
Proposal summary: 

Cognitive dysfunction is proposed to be a feature and risk factor for depression. Evidence from observational and experimental studies suggest a role of low-grade systemic inflammation in depression, which could also be relevant for cognitive dysfunction. Existing cross-sectional studies suggest that inflammation is associated with cognitive dysfunction, particularly poor memory, processing speed, executive function and emotional bias. Limited longitudinal evidence, often based on the elderly population, also suggest a potential link between inflammation and impaired learning, memory, attention, and general cognitive functioning and decline. While these studies point to a potential role of inflammation in cognition, there are key unanswered questions.

First, much of the existing evidence around inflammation and cognition is based on the elderly population, so it is unclear whether inflammation is associated with cognition earlier in the life course. Second, it is unclear whether inflammation plays a causal role in cognitive dysfunction, as cytokine elevation could alternatively be a consequence of cognitive impairment (i.e., reverse causality) or due to confounding. I propose to address these issues using epidemiological approaches.

Impact of research: 
The proposed population-based studies would provide vital evidence on whether inflammation causally influences cognition by addressing key issues of reverse causality and residual confounding. The proposed work is also relevant for other brain disorders where cognitive dysfunction/decline is a key feature, notably Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
Date proposal received: 
Monday, 29 November, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 29 November, 2021
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Cognitive impairment, Mental health, Inflammation, Cognition, Computer simulations/modelling/algorithms, Statistical methods, Cohort studies - attrition, bias, participant engagement, ethics, Cognition - cognitive function, Intelligence - memory, Mendelian randomisation, Inflammation, Cognition