The severity of general sickness symptoms experienced by patients is influenced by many factors. © alfa27/stock.adobe.com

The severity of general sickness symptoms experienced by patients is influenced by many factors. © alfa27/stock.adobe.com

Do positive expectations modulate sickness symptoms and the efficacy of medication in patients with inflammation?

Inflammation plays a role in many diseases, such as infections, neuropsychiatric disorders and chronic pain. However, the messengers released by inflammation not only activate the immune system but also have an effect on the brain. This can cause immune-mediated symptoms, such as depressive mood, increased sensation of pain, fatigue or non-specific physical symptoms. How can positive expectations counteract these symptoms and influence the efficacy of anti-inflammatory medication?

Effects of positive treatment expectations on immune-mediated sickness symptoms in a human model of acute systemic inflammation

This project investigates how treatment expectations modulate the efficacy of an active anti-inflammatory medication on immune-mediated sickness symptoms. The experimental model of inflammation used will enable us to characterise expectation effects on immune-mediated sickness symptoms, inflammatory parameters and the efficacy of anti-inflammatory treatment. Resting-state fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) and DTI (diffusion tensor imaging) data will provide a first insight into the importance of the prefrontal cortex and insula for these effects.

Recommended reading:

Benson S, Hagen S, Hoffmann O, Pasler A, Bingel U, Schedlowski M, Peters J, Elsenbruch S, Frey UH (2019) Can a brief psychological expectancy intervention improve postoperative pain? A randomized, controlled trial in breast cancer patients. Pain 160:1562-1571. PubMed

Benson S, Brinkhoff A, Lueg L, Roderigo T, Kribben A, Wilde B. Witzke O, Engler H, Schedlowski M, Elsenbruch S (2017) Effects of acute systemic inflammation on the interplay between sad mood and affective cognition. Transl Psychiatry 7:1281. PubMed

Benson S, Engler H, Wegner A, Rebernik L, Spreitzer I, Schedlowski M, Elsenbruch S (2017) What makes you feel sick after inflammation? Predictors of acute and persisting physical sickness symptoms induced by experimental endotoxemia. Clin Pharmacol Ther 102:141-151. PubMed

In close cooperation with these projects

A01

A01

A02

A02

A03

A03

A04

A04

A06

A06

A07

A07

How do positive expectations improve mood?

Prof. Dr. Erik M. Müller
Prof. Dr. Dominik M. Endres

A08

A08

Do positive expectations improve the effect of antidepressants?

Prof. Dr. Tilo Kircher
PD Dr. Irina Falkenberg

A09

A09

How is the effect of antidepressants influenced by treatment experiences?

Prof. Dr. Markus Wöhr
Prof. Dr. Rainer K.W. Schwarting

A10

A10

A13

A13

A15

A15

Does anxiety intensify the discontinuation symptoms of antidepressants?

Prof. Dr. Yvonne Nestoriuc
Prof. Dr. Tilo Kircher

Project Lead

Prof. Dr. Sven Benson

Prof. Dr. Sven Benson
Psychologist

Team

Justine Schmidt
PhD Student, Psychologist

Dr. Johanna Reinold
Clinician Scientist