Michelle Thein

Mentor: Andy Russo, PhD

Year Entered Into Program: 2005

Research Description

Evidence suggests that mental illness may be related to both peripheral and central inflammatory processes. Pro-inflammatory cytokines are small signaling molecules released during infection or inflammation. Notably, these molecules are released in response to acute myocardial infarction. Major depressive disorder has been found to be increasingly associated with myocardial infarction. Furthermore, the development of major depressive disorder has been found to impact on morbidity and mortality following myocardial infarction. As serotonin has long been understood to play a role in major depressive disorder as well as other forms of mental illness, I am investigating the relationship between the pro-inflammatory cytokines and serotonin, currently focusing on TNF-α and serotonin synthesis.