Elevated CRP and TNF-α levels are associated with blunted neural oscillations serving fluid intelligence

Sarah M. Dietz, Mikki Schantell, Rachel K. Spooner, Megan E. Sandal, Amirsalar Mansouri, Yasra Arif, Hannah J. Okelberry, Jason A. John, Ryan Glesinger, Pamela E. May, Elizabeth Heinrichs-Graham, Adam J. Case, Matthew C. Zimmerman, Tony W. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction: Inflammatory processes help protect the body from potential threats such as bacterial or viral invasions. However, when such inflammatory processes become chronically engaged, synaptic impairments and neuronal cell death may occur. In particular, persistently high levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) have been linked to deficits in cognition and several psychiatric disorders. Higher-order cognitive processes such as fluid intelligence (Gf) are thought to be particularly vulnerable to persistent inflammation. Herein, we investigated the relationship between elevated CRP and TNF-α and the neural oscillatory dynamics serving Gf. Methods: Seventy adults between the ages of 20–66 years (Mean = 45.17 years, SD = 16.29, 21.4% female) completed an abstract reasoning task that probes Gf during magnetoencephalography (MEG) and provided a blood sample for inflammatory marker analysis. MEG data were imaged in the time–frequency domain, and whole-brain regressions were conducted using each individual's plasma CRP and TNF-α concentrations per oscillatory response, controlling for age, BMI, and education. Results: CRP and TNF-α levels were significantly associated with region-specific neural oscillatory responses. In particular, elevated CRP concentrations were associated with altered gamma activity in the right inferior frontal gyrus and right cerebellum. In contrast, elevated TNF-α levels scaled with alpha/beta oscillations in the left anterior cingulate and left middle temporal, and gamma activity in the left intraparietal sulcus. Discussion: Elevated inflammatory markers such as CRP and TNF-α were associated with aberrant neural oscillations in regions important for Gf. Linking inflammatory markers with regional neural oscillations may hold promise in identifying mechanisms of cognitive and psychiatric disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)430-437
Number of pages8
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity
Volume114
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2023

Keywords

  • Abstract reasoning
  • Alpha
  • Gamma
  • Inflammation
  • MEG
  • Magnetoencephalography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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