Aisha S. Shariq, Elisa Brietzke, Joshua D. Rosenblat, Zihang Pan, Carola Rong, Renee-Marie Ragguett, Caroline Park, Roger S. McIntyre
June 14, 2018
Convergent evidence demonstrates that immune dysfunction (e.g. chronic low-grade inflammatory activation) plays an important role in the development and progression of mood disorders. The Janus kinase/signal transducers and activators of transcription (JAK/STAT) signaling pathway is a pleiotropic cellular cascade that transduces numerous signals, including signals from the release of cytokines and growth factors. The JAK/STAT signaling pathway is involved in mediating several functions of the central nervous system, including neurogenesis, synaptic plasticity, gliogenesis, and microglial activation, all of which have been implicated in the pathophysiology of mood disorders. In addition, the antidepressant actions of current treatments have been shown to be mediated by JAK/STAT-dependent mechanisms. To date, two JAK inhibitors (JAKinibs) have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and are primarily indicated for the treatment of inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. Indirect evidence from studies in populations with inflammatory conditions indicates that JAKinibs significantly improve measures of mood and quality of life. There is also direct evidence from studies in populations with depressive disorders, suggesting that JAK/STAT pathways may be involved in the pathophysiology of depression and that the inhibition of specific JAK/STAT pathways (i.e. via JAKinibs) may be a promising novel treatment for depressive disorders.