Bridging Gaps in Research

Through a coordinated research effort involving patients, clinicians and researchers, the Brain Inflammation Collaborative strives to uncover connections between brain inflammation and mental and physical health and make advances in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of neuroinflammatory illness.

Uncover hidden connections between inflammation and mental health with patient-reported outcomes that leverage wearables, and validated assessments on the Unhide™ Platform for groundbreaking research insights.

The Unhide Project is an ongoing online clinical study that assembles patient-donated data to help clinicians and researchers accelerate breakthroughs surrounding brain inflammation and mental health.

Join the Movement

The relationship between brain inflammation and mental health is vastly understudied and misunderstood. The Brain Inflammation Collaborative is leading the charge to change that. Discover all the different ways you can support our mission to find long-overdue answers and solutions for patients.

In health, the blood brain barrier (BBB) prevents dangerous “players” traveling in the blood from reaching the protected space of the brain. Many inflammatory brain diseases are associated with preceding viral or bacterial infection, autoimmune processes, and/or their impact on the integrity of the blood brain barrier. Some people also have underlying risk factors for infectious or autoimmune inflammation.

Causes of brain inflammation

Inflammation occurs as a natural response to an infection or when body tissues are injured. Inflammatory processes, however, can run afoul and begin to attack the body’s own cells. Chronic inflammation that persists after an infection goes away or that arises without an obvious trigger may be due to autoimmunity. In some people this process is persistent and in others it can come and go.

While brain inflammation can be caused by autoimmune or infectious conditions, the specific cause remains unknown in 30% to 40% of cases, even with extensive testing.
– Johns Hopkins website

The brain is usually kept safe from infection due to the blood brain barrier, or BBB. However, if the BBB is compromised, antibodies, white blood cells, or inflammatory products of white blood cells may cross into and injure or irritate various regions of the brain.

The presence of brain-reactive antibodies found in persons hospitalized with mood disorders, and previously exposed to severe infection or autoimmune diseases, suggests that inflammatory processes increase the permeability of the blood brain barrier and central nervous system.
– Autoimmune Diseases and Severe Infection as Risk Factors for Mood Disorders: A Nationwide Study

Risk factors of brain inflammation

  • Chronic inflammation is often related to genetics or environmental determinants. Indeed, the interaction of several different risk factors likely contribute to inflammatory brain disorders and include the following:
  • Genetics – certain genetic mutations can contribute to the dysregulation of the immune function or mental health propensities..
  • Infections – exposure to certain infections trigger the immune system and can potentially initiate or exacerbate an autoimmune reaction. 
  • Stress –chronic stress can lead to immune system dysfunction, contributing to a persistent low-grade inflammation associated with cognitive, behavioral, and emotional changes; acute stress can also lead to increased inflammatory activity.
  • Maternal/paternal influence – environmental factors during pregnancy and early life—such as exposure to inflammation in utero or infancy—may affect how different genes from both father and mother are expressed. Breastfeeding is felt to alter the types of bacteria living in a person’s gut, possibly changing how their immune system reacts to perceived threats lifelong.
  • Injury and aging – Injury to the head can trigger proinflammatory mechanisms that compromise the brain’s stability. Aging brains may suffer from chronically increased levels of proinflammatory cytokines .
  • Tumors – an immune response against some tumors (benign or malignant) can generate antibodies directed against neuronal cells, which contribute to a condition called autoimmune encephalitis.

Need for research: the Unhide™ Project

Our vision is for brain inflammation disorders to be easily diagnosed by medical professionals and to find accessible therapies. 

To support research in this area we developed the Unhide™ Project, a longitudinal and historical research registry and bio repository platform to study the potential immunological mechanisms driving chronic brain inflammation in order to find new therapeutic targets.

Research is critical to evolve current therapies and develop new treatment targets

The Unhide™ Project was established to collect lab samples from patients with diseases characterized by brain inflammation in order to compare and understand common biomarkers.

You can mail a check (payable to Brain Inflammation Collaborative, Inc.) with your donation any time to the following address:

Brain Inflammation Collaborative, Inc.
925 Genesee St #180440
Delafield, WI 53018

https://braininflammation.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/Unhide_whitepaper_V4.pdf