A symposium was organised on the 2nd November 2015 by FPM Council member Dr Tim Nicholson to reflect the emergence of an exciting new area of research into the aetiology of psychiatric disorders, new advances with potentially large clinical implications. [Image of cells – Wellcome Images (Creative Commons)].
There has been a recent rapid increase in the understanding of the potential role of immune dysfunction in CNS disorders – via both ‘acquired’ (antigen-specific) and ‘innate’ (relatively non-specific) immune processes – affecting ‘higher’ functions resulting in cognitive and behavioural symptoms.
These developments complement the already well-established role of the immune system in neurological disease, as reflected in the investigation, diagnosis and treatment of many syndromes to the point of immune dysfunction (mostly via autoimmunity) being a differential diagnosis for almost any neurological disorder.
There is now increasing evidence that the immune system is implicated in many disorders at the interface of neurology and psychiatry (E.g. encephalitis, Tourette’s and dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease) and there is even evidence that ‘core’ psychiatric disorders such as OCD, schizophrenia and even depression might have a significant immune contribution to the disorder.
This has major potential ramifications for the management of these disorders with potential for a wide range of new diagnostic tests and new both disease-modifying (immunomodulation) and even preventative treatments.
This evidence, and future directions, were reviewed at a level accessible to the generalist to bring them up to date with this fast moving field. The speakers included a genuinely world-class list of authorities on these subjects.
This seminar was aimed at psychiatrists, and clinicians in other related areas (especially neurology & immunology), interested in this emerging area, including Neuropsychiatrists, Early Intervention Psychosis Psychiatrists & Old Age Psychiatrists, and neuroimmunologists and scientists in related disciplines.