There is a movement in medicine and in particular psychiatry to regard most diseases as having underlying immune and genetic abnormalities as the major contributors to disease.
Most diseases are now viewed as being due to an abnormal immune response to an immunogen e.g. bacteria, food, trauma, stress or auto-immunogen e.g. excess amino acids as in PKU or cancer cells in genetically predisposed individuals resulting in infection, cancer or “auto-immune” diseases. This is described as the TREG syndrome model of medicine.
TREGS or regulatory T-cells are white cells which suppress or enhance immune system activity.
Too much regulation results in reduced immune activity and infection and cancer.
Too little regulation results in “auto-immune” diseases.
In fact most diseases which are becoming more prevalent in the West which are of unknown origin are thought to be TREG syndromes. These diseases usually have been described as essential (hypertension), idiopathic (idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis) and cryptogenic (cryptogenic liver disease). These descriptions are becoming redundant with discoveries of abnormalities of the immune system and genetics of affected individuals.
And so to the brain.
If most diseases in psychiatry are in fact due to immuno-genetic abnormalities then perhaps pathological changes in the brain should now be relabelled as though they were inflammatory.
Hence the following terms could be used
Cerebritis – inflammation of the neurons (nerve cells) of the cerebral cortex.
Cerebellitis – inflammation of the cerebellum.
Hippocampitis – inflammation of the hippocampus.
Amygdalitis – inflammation of the amygdala.
Putamenitis – inflammation of the putamin.
Basal ganglitis – inflammation of the basal ganglia.
Hypothalamitis – inflammation of the hypothalamus.
Pituitaritis – inflammation of the pituitary gland.
Ponsitis – inflammation of the pons.
This re-labelling would replace the current concept of psychiatric diseases being degenerative in nature.
If patients were informed that their brains were inflamed and reddened instead of being advised that the chemical levels in their brains were imbalanced then perhaps they would understand that inflammation improves rather similar to a scratch on the arm improving with time.
Most of the anti-depressant and anti-psychotic medications are now known to have anti-inflammatory properties.
On another level most psychiatric diseases have immuno-genetic inflammation of neurons as the underlying pathology. The number of connections between neurons is related to the clinical features of the disease. The number of connections (synapses) relates to how many protruberances called dendritic spines there are on neurons. The dendritic spines may be compared to leaves on a tree.
When the parts of neurons called dendrites are inflamed there are fewer spines (leaves). The fewer the leaves, the more severe the psychiatric disease.
Immuno-genetic inflammation of the dendrites is called dendritis.
Much of the new research in psychiatry involves treatments which quell the neuro-inflammation which causes dendritis with subsequent structural and functional changes in the different parts of the brain e.g. hippocampitis In Alzheimer`s disease.
New treatments being studied relate to suppressing inflammation and include antibiotics (in schizophrenia and autism), statins (in Parkinson`s disease) and stem cells (suppress inflammation as well converting to new neurons).
In summary viewing psychiatric disease as being due to “allergy” so to speak may help doctors and patients have a better concept of what is really happening in patients suffering from psychiatric disease rather than describing such diseases as degenerative and irreversible in nature which is the last thing one wants to hear in the depths of despair. A better description would be inflammatory and reversible.
“Old ideas have to die before new ideas can flourish”.
The tree model of brain disease
Video – The tree model of brain disease
I have requested that dendritis, dendritides, dendropathy, dendropathies and hippocampitis be accepted by the Oxford English Dictionary in 2008 but so far no joy. They will probably end up in the secret vault of words rejected by the Oxford English Dictionary.
Secret vault of words rejected by the Oxford English Dictionary