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Brain inflammation study

About one third of patients with depression do not benefit from current treatments and they often have increased levels of peripheral inflammatory biomarkers. To identify new therapeutic targets, it is crucial to investigate the inflammatory system role in the pathogenesis of depression. A possible mechanism may be the association between peripheral inflammation and inflammation in the brain. This study investigates whether increased peripheral immune activation due to administration of peripheral immune challenge, interferon-alpha 2a, can cause temporary immune activation in the brain of healthy volunteers. So, peripheral (blood samples) and central (PET imaging) inflammation measures will be collected before and after interferon-alpha administration, in 5 healthy participants attending 3 visits.

After having checked participants' health status on the first visit, we will inject a substance that has been safely used for many years in research studies to study inflammation in people. This will cause a temporary inflammation in the body which will last only few hours. We will take some pictures of the brain (using MRI and PET) before and after this injection and take small samples of blood to understand if inflammation in the body is associated with inflammation in the brain. Participants will also be asked a few questions regarding their well-being, mood, and their quality of life. This will involve an interview with a psychology/psychiatry trained researcher, filling in a few simple questionnaires. 


We are looking for:


  • male
  • aged 25-45
  • no psychiatric disorders
  • no medical disorders
  • no smoking
  • no contraindications for MRI
  • no contraindications for PET


  • London


In total, participants should come to see us on 4 occasions:

  • screening visit (duration: 1 hour)
  • visit 1 (duration: 4 hours in the afternoon)
  • visit 2, after 1 week from visit 1 (duration: all day)
  • visit 3, the day after visit 2 (duration: all day)

Participant will be compensated for their time and travel expenses.

Contact information:

Please contact MARIA for more information. 


Phone: 07597 721557

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