for males ages 30-60 (full criteria)
healthy people welcome
at San Francisco, California and other locations
study started
estimated completion
Aoife O'Donovan



This study is a pilot study to examine the effects of acute inflammation on cognition and emotion in healthy participants using a between-subjects, randomized, double-blind design.


The inflammatory response of the immune system is responsive to stress and it impacts brain function. Animal studies have shown that inflammation appears to alter threat- and reward-related brain activity. Accumulating evidence points to inflammatory proteins, specifically cytokines, as key players in this relationship. Although cytokines are typically too large to pass through the blood brain barrier (BBB), they can influence brain function and structure by transmitting signals from peripheral systems to the brain.

The administration of endotoxin within the polysaccharide form of Salmonella typhi vaccination provides an ideal model for studying the causal effects of short-term inflammation on thinking patterns (i.e., cognition) and emotions in the brain. Endotoxin is a component of the cell walls of Gram-negative bacteria, which promotes the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, such as interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) via toll-like receptor-4 (TLR-4) activation and nuclear factor- κB (NF-κB) signaling.

To examine the effects of acute inflammation on brain functioning, 24 healthy participants will be recruited. The investigators will will randomize participants to placebo or inflammatory challenge using polysaccharide typhoid vaccine (i.e., endotoxin) and will use validated behavioral tasks and questionnaires to assess threat and reward sensitivity. They will assess chronic resting levels of inflammation as well as the inflammatory response to Salmonella typhi vaccination.


Healthy Inflammation Threat sensitivity Reward sensitivity Vaccines Typhoid Vi Polysaccharide Vaccine


You can join if…

Open to males ages 30-60

  • Healthy individuals (free of chronic illness or lifetime history of psychiatric disorder)
  • Non-smokers

You CAN'T join if...

  • Lifetime history of an psychiatric disorder with psychotic features, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, alcohol or substance dependence, or a history of alcohol or substance abuse within the past 2 years.
  • Currently exposed to recurrent trauma or have been exposed to a traumatic event within the past 3 months, or has current diagnosis of PTSD.
  • Diagnosis of sleep apnea, neurological disorder, systemic illness affective central nervous system function, and/or anemia.
  • Any suicidal or homicidal ideation within the past year.
  • Subjects currently receiving selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), benzodiazepine receptor agonists, anticonvulsants, atypical antipsychotic medication, any antidepressant medication including trazodone, or any psychotropic medication.
  • Termination of SSRIs, benzodiazepine or benzodiazepine receptor agonists, anticonvulsants, atypical antipsychotic medication, any antidepressant medication including trazodone in the last month, or plans to start these medications during the course of the study.
  • Contraindications to fMRI, including severe claustrophobia and presence of ferromagnetic objects in the body that would interfere with magnetic resonance examination and/or cause a safety risk (e.g., pace makers, implanted stimulators, pumps, extensive dental work, upper body tattoos).
  • Contraindications to typhoid vaccine, which include acute febrile illness within the past two weeks, disorders characterized by a deficiency to ability to mount a humoral or cell-mediated immune response, use of anti-malarial medications in the past six months, antibiotics in past three months, a history of hypersensitivity to typhoid vaccine or any other vaccine, pervious immunization with whole-cell typhoid or live, oral typhoid vaccines, vaccination with the polysaccharide version of the typhoid vaccine within the past 3 years.
  • Conditions or use of substances that may be associated with inflammation, including drugs that affect the immune system.
  • Any chronic medical illness.
  • Having a body mass index (BMI) over 30.
  • Individuals who work the night shift


  • San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center
    San Francisco California 94121 United States
  • University of California, San Francisco
    San Francisco California 94143 United States

Lead Scientist

  • Aoife O'Donovan
    People who experience traumatic or enduring psychological stress are more likely to develop psychiatric disorders as well as cardiovascular, autoimmune and neurodegenerative disorders. Our research is focused on revealing how psychological stress drives the development of mental and physical disorders.


in progress, not accepting new patients
Start Date
Completion Date
University of California, San Francisco
Phase 1
Study Type
Last Updated