Johns Hopkins Medicine study adds to evidence that T cell-driven changes in the gut may affect brain function associated with depressive symptoms
In experiments with mice and humans, a team led by Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers says it has identified a particular intestinal immune cell that impacts the gut microbiome, which in turn may affect brain functions linked to stress-induced disorders such as depression. Targeting changes mediated by these immune cells in the gut, with drugs or other therapies, could potentially bring about new ways to treat depression.
“The results of our study highlight the previously unrecognized role of intestinal gamma delta T cells (γδ T cells) in modifying psychological stress responses, and the importance of a protein receptor known as dectin-1, found on the surface of immune cells, as a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of stress-induced behaviors,” says Atsushi Kamiya, M.D., Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the study’s senior author.
Dectin-1 binds to certain antigens, or proteins, to signal immune cells to activate in specific ways. This receptor, the researchers say, may be involved in the microbiome alteration and immune-inflammatory responses in the colon of mice, which suggests that it may be involved in stress responses via γδ T cells in the intestinal immune system.