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Increases in depressive behaviors have been reported in patients experiencing chronic pain. In these patients, the symptoms of pain and depression commonly coexist, impairing their lives and challenging effective treatment. The hippocampus may play a role in both chronic pain and depression. A reduction in the volume of the hippocampus is related to reduced neurogenesis and neuroplasticity in cases of chronic pain and depression. Moreover, an increase of proinflammatory factors and a reduction of neurotrophic factors have been reported to modulate the hippocampal neurogenesis and neuroplasticity in chronic pain and depression. This review discusses the mechanisms underlying the depressive-like behavior accompanying chronic pain, emphasizing the structural and functional changes in the hippocampus. We also discuss the hypothesis that pro-inflammatory factors and neurotrophic factors expressed in the hippocampus may serve as a therapeutic target for comorbid chronic pain and depression.


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Involvement of the hippocampus in chronic pain and depression

Show Author's information Tahmineh Mokhtari1,2Yiheng Tu3Li Hu1,2( )
CAS Key Laboratory of Mental Health, Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
Department of Psychology, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Charlestown, MA, USA

Abstract

Increases in depressive behaviors have been reported in patients experiencing chronic pain. In these patients, the symptoms of pain and depression commonly coexist, impairing their lives and challenging effective treatment. The hippocampus may play a role in both chronic pain and depression. A reduction in the volume of the hippocampus is related to reduced neurogenesis and neuroplasticity in cases of chronic pain and depression. Moreover, an increase of proinflammatory factors and a reduction of neurotrophic factors have been reported to modulate the hippocampal neurogenesis and neuroplasticity in chronic pain and depression. This review discusses the mechanisms underlying the depressive-like behavior accompanying chronic pain, emphasizing the structural and functional changes in the hippocampus. We also discuss the hypothesis that pro-inflammatory factors and neurotrophic factors expressed in the hippocampus may serve as a therapeutic target for comorbid chronic pain and depression.

Keywords:

depression, chronic pain, hippocampus, proinflammatory cytokines, brain-derived neurotrophic factor
Received: 06 November 2019 Revised: 08 December 2019 Accepted: 15 December 2019 Published: 18 May 2020 Issue date: December 2019
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Publication history

Received: 06 November 2019
Revised: 08 December 2019
Accepted: 15 December 2019
Published: 18 May 2020
Issue date: December 2019

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© The authors 2019

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 31671141, No. 31822025), the Informatization Special Project of Chinese Academy of Sciences (No. XXH13506-306), and the Scientific Foundation project of Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (No. Y6CX021008).

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