[Neuroscience] The Neuroimmunology of Psychiatric Disorders

konstantin kouzovnikov via neur-sci%40net.bio.net (by myukhome At hotmail.com)
Thu Nov 23 10:10:28 EST 2006


>This highly interdisciplinary
>group seeks to bring together immunologists and
>neuroscientists interested in exploring the intersection of
>these two fields in periodic meetings that will include
>discussions of basic, clinical, and translational aspects
>of this emerging field.

Here is an interesting spin on the topic. A few months ago I reviewed a 
messy body of evidence related to the so called Cranial Electro-Stimulation 
(CES), the term used by manufacturers of a soap-box-like device commercially 
available anywhere (the packaging is pink and it depicts attractive female 
ostentatiously euphoric while having the device attached to her ear lobes). 
Alpha-Stim (Texas) is one of the brand names. What prompted the review is a 
2005 paper suggesting that low-frequency and low-voltage currents applied at 
the ear-lobes produce significant reduction of anxiety and aggression in 
heterogeneous group of mental health patients, including in those with 
positive symptoms and/or Dxed with schizophrenia. All the patients were 
effectively refractory to available pharmacological supports.

It turns out, according to a Yale paper, at the beginning of the 90s the CES 
was brought to the States by Pr. Lebedev, from Pavlov Institute, St. Pet's, 
Russia who turns out to be the guy who is now managing a research and 
treatment movement which includes over 200 researchers spread all over 
eastern Europe. They call the treatment modality TES. A year ago Prof. 
Lebedev was nominated and then received some sort of medal from the Russian 
federation Academy of science, specifically for the efficacy of the 
treatments (contribution of an innovation to the national health, or 
something like that). This Yale originated and other papers suggest that 
what lebedev calls Transcranial Electro-Stimulation was the corner stone of 
the TMS technology. Anyway, my review produced an interesting data, here are 
the central points:

1. While what has become a North American spin off re: CES tech is centred 
on anxiety and pain management with the latest claims that CES is a 
cost-effective as effective mood and aggression management approach.
2. Eastern Europeans operate in a completely different paradigm, i.e. they 
claim that their neuroimaging studies, confirmed by some work in Toronto and 
Huston, produce evidence that the first outcome of the stimulation is a 
boost of immune system.
3. Russians suggest that hypothalamus is the "target" area, although at 
least two their own papers (I have now two huge volumes from Prof. lebedev) 
clearly show that the stable fMRI responses were obtained also in brain 
stem. However, the brain stem has not being investigated at all. Weird, 
isn't it? especially when folks are talking about immune system boost. I 
guess, just like the rest of us, they have little technology to work with 
the Posterior Fossa.
4. The strange thing though is that lebedev's group claimed that placement 
of the electrodes just above eyes and on the back  of the head is central 
for getting a stable outcome, while the Alpha-Stim folks places the 
electrodes on ear-lobes and claim similar efficacy. Pr. lebedev was not able 
to comment on such a discrepancy, except saying that "there is something in 
it" (I spoke to him).
5. My comparative review of the so called "intrinsic brain activities" 
papers suggests that the frequencies used by both groups match the such 
frequencies considered as "healthy", at least in hypothalamus.

Since then I have obtained additional unpublished data on efficacy of CES in 
one American project involving offenders with mental health problems, 
especially with a combination of aggression and positive symptoms.

In addition, anything I ever managed to obtain regarding possible 
deleterious effect of low-frequencies, including from the UN folks, suggest 
both a/ there is no evidence of them being harmful, at least within the 
frequencies both groups used and b/ on a cellular level, there is a 
confirming study from Germany regarding immune boost resulting from a 
short-term (minutes) application of such frequencies and currents.

This is how far I managed to get at this point as the entire context has 
been perceived by the folks in charge of some specific populations in 
question, at least where I could talk to them, as "irregular". The other 
side of the coin: Eastern Europe seems to be "infected" by governmental and 
private clinics promoting the CES/TES as a "cannon boll" approach for immune 
boost which they "market" as a precursor to elimination of certain mental 
health problems, i.e. stress, fatigue, etc.

There is absolutely no research comprehensive enough to allow any definite 
impressions/interpretations. It does not fit any "calls for proposals", and 
the emotional "resistance" of the majority of the main stream clinical folks 
whose OK with clinical trials is central is very much an issue. A gap 
between neuro-chemical and electro-magnetic interpretations is another 
issue, perhaps the conventional synaptic transmission paradigms provide 
little help in bridging these two aspects of brain function while there is 
amore and more calls to consider the synaptic transmission context as 
overrated. On another hand, the Intrinsic Brain Activity theory is way too 
young to compete or supplement the latter.

Try to find Allen Childs paper on this topic, if interested.

Konstantin.

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