Signaling pathway may explain the body clock's link to mental illness

June 16, 2014

Alterations in a cellular signaling pathway called cAMP–CREB may help explain why the body clocks of people with bipolar disease are out of sync, according to a new European Journal of Neuroscience study.

Researchers established a novel viral method to make a surprising observation: the amplitude of cAMP–CREB signaling in cells from human skin biopsies predicted the way that the circadian hormone melatonin responds to light in healthy individuals, and it was much higher in cells from bipolar patients.

"Our study suggests that variation in the activity of a very common signaling pathway that is used for many different cellular tasks could help explain long-observed links between depression, light, the hormone melatonin, and ," said co-author Professor Steven Brown.

More information: Gaspar, L., van de Werken, M., Johansson, A.-S., Moriggi, E., Owe-Larsson, B., Kocks, J. W. H., Lundkvist, G. B., Gordijn, M. C. M. and Brown, S. A. (2014), Human cellular differences in cAMP - CREB signaling correlate with light-dependent melatonin suppression and bipolar disorder. European Journal of Neuroscience. DOI: 10.1111/ejn.12602

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