Julie Lasselin


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Arbetar vid Stressforskningsinstitutet
Telefon 08-553 789 21
Besöksadress Frescati Hagväg 16 A
Rum 304
Postadress Stressforskningsinstitutet 106 91 Stockholm

Om mig

I am a psychoneuroimmunologist in the team of Professor Mats Lekander. My research focuses on the role of inflammation in behavioral changes, including fatigue, motivational reorganization and depressive and anxiety symptoms. I carry out both clinical observational studies in vulnerable populations (e.g., obesity) and experimental studies using the model of experimental endotoxemia in humans. I also investigate the psychological and physiological factors that could explain the inter-individual variability in the effects of inflammation on behavior.


I urval från Stockholms universitets publikationsdatabas
  • 2018. Julie Lasselin (et al.). Brain, behavior, and immunity 74, 213-221


    People react very differently when sick, and there are only poor correlations between the intensity of the immune response and sickness behavior. Yet, alternative predictors of the individual differences in sickness are under-investigated. Based on the predictive coding model of placebo responses, where health outcomes are function of bottom-up sensory information and top-down expectancies, we hypothesized that individual differences in behavioral changes during sickness could be explained by individual top-down expectancies and prediction errors.


    Twenty-two healthy participants were made sick by intravenously administering lipopolysaccharide (2 ng/kg body weight). Their expectations of becoming sick were assessed before the injection.


    Participants having lower expectations of becoming sick before the injection reacted with more emotional distress (i.e., more negative affect and lower emotional arousal) than those with high expectations of becoming sick, despite having similar overall sickness behavior (i.e., a combined factor including fatigue, pain, nausea and social withdrawal). In keeping with a predictive coding model, the “prediction error signal”, i.e., the discrepancy between the immune signal and sickness expectancy, predicted emotional distress (reduction in emotional arousal in particular).


    The current findings suggest that the emotional component of sickness behavior is, at least partly, shaped by top-down expectations. Helping patients having a realistic expectation of symptoms during treatment of an illness may thus reduce aggravated emotional responses, and ultimately improve patients’ quality of life and treatment compliance.


    “Endotoxin-induced Inflammatory and Behavioral Responses and Predictors of Individual Differences”,, registration number: NCT02529592.

  • 2018. Julie Lasselin (et al.). Frontiers in neuroendocrinology (Print) 50, 91-106

    Human models demonstrate that experimental activation of the innate immune system has profound effects on brain activation and behavior, inducing fatigue, worsened mood and pain sensitivity. It has been proposed that inflammation is a mechanism involved in the etiology and maintenance of depression, chronic pain and long-term fatigue. These diseases show a strong female overrepresentation, suggesting that a better understanding of sex differences in how inflammation drives behavior could help the development of individualized treatment interventions. For this purpose, we here review sex differences in studies using experimental inflammatory models to investigate changes in brain activity and behavior. We suggest a model in which inflammation accentuates sex differences in brain networks and pre-existing vulnerability factors. This effect could render women more vulnerable to the detrimental effects of immune-to-brain communication over time. We call for systematic and large scale investigations of vulnerability factors for women in the behavioral response to inflammation.

  • 2018. John Axelsson, Julie Lasselin, Mats Lekander. BMJ. British Medical Journal 360
  • 2017. Julie Lasselin (et al.). Neuropsychopharmacology 42 (4), 801-810

    Inflammation-induced sickness is associated with a large set of behavioral alterations; however, its motivational aspects remain poorly explored in humans. The present study assessed the effect of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) administration at a dose of 2 ng/kg of body weight on motivation in 21 healthy human subjects in a double-blinded, placebo (saline)-controlled, cross-over design. Incentive motivation and reward sensitivity were measured using the Effort Expenditure for Rewards Task (EEfRT), in which motivation for high-effort/high-reward trials vs low-effort/low-reward trials are manipulated by variations in reward magnitude and,probability to win. Because of the strong interactions between sleepiness and motivation, the role of sleepiness was also determined. As expected, the probability to win predicted the choice to engage in high-effort/high-reward trials; however, this occurred at a greater extent after LPS than after saline administration. This effect was related to the level of sleepiness. Sleepiness increased motivation to choose the high-effort/high-reward mode of response, but only when the probability to win was the highest. LPS had no effect on reward sensitivity either directly or via sleepiness. These results indicate that systemic inflammation induced by LPS administration causes motivational changes in young healthy subjects, which are associated with sleepiness. Thus, despite its association with energy-saving behaviors, sickness allows increased incentive motivation when the effort is deemed worthwhile.

  • 2017. Bianka Karshikoff, Tina Sundelin, Julie Lasselin. Frontiers in Immunology 8

    Fatigue is a highly disabling symptom in various medical conditions. While inflammation has been suggested as a potential contributor to the development of fatigue, underlying mechanisms remain poorly understood. In this review, we propose that a better assessment of central fatigue, taking into account its multidimensional features, could help elucidate the role and mechanisms of inflammation in fatigue development. A description of the features of central fatigue is provided, and the current evidence describing the association between inflammation and fatigue in various medical conditions is reviewed. Additionally, the effect of inflammation on specific neuronal processes that may be involved in distinct fatigue dimensions is described. We suggest that the multidimensional aspects of fatigue should be assessed in future studies of inflammation-induced fatigue and that this would benefit the development of effective therapeutic interventions.

  • 2016. Julie Lasselin (et al.). Brain, behavior, and immunity 58, 63-68

    Impairment in cognitive flexibility and set shifting abilities has been described in obesity. This alteration is critical as it can interfere with obesity management strategies. Recent evidences suggest that chronic low-grade inflammation may be involved in cognitive deficits associated with obesity, but the potential involvement in reduced flexibility remains unknown. The objective of this study was to assess the contribution of low-grade inflammation, determined by circulating levels of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP), in reduced cognitive flexibility and shifting abilities of obese subjects relatively to a group of non-obese participants. Performance in the intra/extra-dimensional set shift (IED) test, extracted from the CANTAB, was assessed in 66 obese subjects and 20 non-obese participants. Obese subjects with concentrations of hsCRP above 5 mg/L exhibited reduced performance on the IED test in comparison to obese subjects with lower levels of hsCRP and non-obese participants. This difference was particularly manifest in the number of errors made during the extra-dimensional shift (EDS errors). In contrast, performance before the extra-dimensional shift was spared. Linear regression analyses revealed that the association between obesity and IED alterations was significant only when the condition hsCRP >5 mg/L was entered in the model. These findings are important as they indicate that, rather than obesity itself, low-grade inflammation represents a major contributor of IED performance in obese subjects.

  • 2016. Julie Lasselin, Elena Alvarez-Salas, Jan-Sebastian Grigoleit. Current opinion in pharmacology (Print) 29, 34-41

    Whereas it is well-established that inflammation and other immune responses can change how we feel, most people are still surprised to hear that, conversely, well-being and its violations also affect our immune system. Here we show that those effects are highly adaptive and bear potential for both research and therapeutic applications. The studies discussed in this review demonstrate that immunity is tuned by ones emotions, personality, and social status as well as by other life style variables like sleep, nutrition, obesity, or exercise. We further provide a short excursion on the effects of stress and depression on immunity and discuss acute experimental endotoxemia as a model to study the effects of well-being on the innate immune response in humans.

Visa alla publikationer av Julie Lasselin vid Stockholms universitet

Senast uppdaterad: 15 mars 2019

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