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Stress, Psychiatry and Immunology Lab & Perinatal Psychiatry

Understanding the relationship between physical and mental health, for the enhancement of both

In the Stress, Psychiatry and Immunology laboratory (SPI-Lab) Research Group, which includes the Perinatal Psychiatry team, we aim to understand how stress hormones and inflammatory responses regulate behaviour and participate to the therapeutic action of psychotropic drugs.

The research spans a variety of clinical settings, with a emphasis on clinical conditions where there are prominent changes in stress biological markers, such as depression, first-episode psychosis, women in the perinatal period (and their infants), individuals with history of trauma, and patients with inflammation-related medical disorders such as viral hepatitis and chronic fatigue. Moreover, the Group and the Laboratory have a strong emphasis on biological and molecular research relevant to mental health, using both biological samples derived from patients’ populations, and experimental cellular and animal models

The team

The SPI-Lab is led by Professor Carmine M. Pariante, Professor in Biological Psychiatry and Consultant in Perinatal Psychiatry at the South London and Maudsley. Find out more about the team at our people page.

Watch our work

Below are some of the most recent new, videos, and radio broadcasts featuring Professor Carmine Pariante and the work of the SPI Lab. To stay in the know of the very latest on all things SPI Lab, head over to our official Twitter page.

The ghost of inflammation 

Our research

The research strategy at the Stress, Psychiatry and Immunology laboratory (SPI-Lab) Research Group is based on three parallel streams of research, always with a focus on stress, hormones and inflammation, and an emphasis on translation and back-translation between the different streams:

Biomarker research in humans

Our biomarker research aims to identify blood-based biomarkers that are clinically relevant, and to clarify the effects of psychotropic drugs on the brain, with the ambition of generating new targets for more effective medications. Our work is focused in particular on inflammation and stress hormones.

Perinatal research in mothers and their offspring

Our perinatal research aims to improve the understanding of the effects of maternal mental illness on early parenting, babies’ development, and offspring’s long-term mental health. 

Across these clinical projects, we are working very closely with the Perinatal Psychiatry Clinical Services at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM). For further information on these services, please see the SLaM website.

Experimental cellular and animal research  

The experimental cellular and animal research aims to clarify the molecular changes induced by stressors in human and animal brain models, including the associated phenotypical changes in neurogenesis and brain function, and the molecular mechanisms underlying the effects of psychotropic medications. For this research program, we work very closely with the Centre for the Cellular Basis of Behaviour (CCBB) within the Department of Neuroscience.

Participate in research

The Stress, Psychiatry, Immunology & Perinatal Psychiatry Research Group are involved in a number of clinical trials and research studies.

Please contact us if you are interested in taking part in any of the research projects listed below that are currently recruiting participants

We are very happy to discuss the aims and procedures involved in each of the studies listed. All enquiries from prospective participants, carers, family and friends are warmly received.

ATP Study

Background

Depression affects over 300 million people globally, and major depression disorder (MDD) is one of the main causes of severe disability. Symptoms of MDD often persist despite antidepressant drug therapy, possibly because currently available antidepressant drugs have a similar mechanism of action. It is therefore important to discover new drugs that work in a different way.

There is evidence to suggest that inflammation may be linked to depression and that anti-inflammatory mechanisms may offer a new approach to treating depression. This trial aims to test whether a new anti-inflammatory drug has the potential to treat patients suffering from MDD and whose symptoms remain despite current medications.

Eligibility Criteria

Due to the nature of clinical research, we have a strict set of eligibility criteria that need to be met before participation in the study is possible.

To take part you must:

  • Be between 18 and 60 years of age (inclusive)
  • Have a BMI between 18 and 36kg/m2
  • Be currently treated with an anti-depressant for at least 6 weeks
  • Still be experiencing symptoms of depression
  • NOT have any medical disorders that affect your immune system
  • NOT be pregnant, breastfeeding or trying for at least 6 months from enrolling

Please note, there are other criteria to meet to be eligible, we have only listed the ones that are easy for you to determine.

What does taking part involve?

  • If you are eligible to take part, you will be randomly allocated to either the active drug group or the placebo (dummy drug) group. You will then have to take the allocated drug daily for about 8 weeks, alongside your current antidepressant medication. We cannot tell you which group you have been allocated to.
  • You will make 6 visits to the research centre over approximately 14 weeks.
  • You will have to fast overnight (10hrs) before each visit.
  • At the visits you will be asked questions about your depression and mental health, and complete some computer tasks.
  • You will also be required to provide blood and urine samples for various tests, and undergo ECG[1] and MRI[2]
  • You will also be required to complete some activities at home which include completing weekly questionnaires, providing saliva samples and wear a wrist activity monitor.

For further information about this study, ATP study, visit: https://www.atp-trial.uk/

ATP Email: atpstudy@kcl.ac.uk

General Email: neuroimmunology@kcl.ac.uk

Awards

  • Highly Cited Researchers 2019 – Professor Carmine Pariante
  • Wellcome Trust, £2 million – SHAPER – Scaling-up Health-Arts Programmes: Implementation and Effectiveness Research 

Activities

Upcoming

  • RCPsych Christmas Debate for Young People 2019

Past

Publications

  • Chang, J. P. C., Su, K. P., Mondelli, V., Satyanarayanan, S. K., Yang, H. T., Chiang, Y. J., … Pariante, C. M. (2019). High-dose eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) improves attention and vigilance in children and adolescents with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and low endogenous EPA levels. Translational Psychiatry, 9(1). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41398-019-0633-0
  • Lambert, E. R., Koutoukidis, D. A., & Jackson, S. E. (2019). Effects of weight stigma in news media on physical activity, dietary and weight loss intentions and behaviour. Obesity Research & Clinical Practice. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.orcp.2019.09.001
  • Lombardo, G., Enache, D., Gianotti, L., Schatzberg, A. F., Young, A. H., Pariante, C. M., & Mondelli, V. (2019). Baseline cortisol and the efficacy of antiglucocorticoid treatment in mood disorders: A meta-analysis. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 110, 104420. https://doi.org/10.1016/J.PSYNEUEN.2019.104420
  • Mondelli, V., & Vernon, A. C. (2019). From early adversities to immune activation in psychiatric disorders: the role of the sympathetic nervous system. Clinical & Experimental Immunology. https://doi.org/10.1111/cei.13351

Contact us

Maurice Wohl Clinical Neuroscience Institute
Cutcombe Road
London
SE5 9RT

For guest writing opportunities in our blog, please contact us: inspirethemind@kcl.ac.uk

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020 7848 0531