Animal studies suggest new paths to treating depression

November 16, 2010, Society for Neuroscience

New animal research has identified factors, such as the stress response and immune system, that may play important roles in depression. Scientists have also found that the regulation of nerve cell signals influences depression in animals, and that new drug combinations may more effectively treat it. The findings were presented at Neuroscience 2010, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience and the world's largest source of emerging news on brain science and health.

Depression is a common mental disorder that affects more than 121 million people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. Studies show the most effective treatment for moderate or is a combination of antidepressant medication and psychotherapy. However, 20 to 40 percent of people with are not helped by existing therapies, highlighting the need for new treatment targets and approaches.

Today's new findings show that:

  • An inability to cope with stress may play a role in depression. When placed in stressful situations, zebrafish with a mutation in a receptor important in stress management displayed depression-like behavior, which was reversed when the fish were given Prozac (Herwig Baier, PhD, abstract 884.1, see attached summary).
  • The immune system may be a factor in depression. When an immune hormone that carries "sickness" signals to the brain was blocked in mice, the animals showed fewer depression symptoms (Simon Sydserff, PhD, abstract 666.24, see attached summary).
  • Mice that lack a molecule involved in regulating nerve cell signals are more active and resilient to , behaving the same way as animals given antidepressant drugs. The discovery offers a new target for controlling involved in mood regulation (James Bibb, PhD, abstract 741.9, see attached summary).
  • Two antidepressants may be better than one. A new animal study shows that when drugs that alter two mood-regulating brain chemicals are combined, they produce a greater antidepressant response (Marina Picciotto, PhD, abstract 769.9, see attached summary).
Other recent findings discussed show that:
  • Two brain molecules, p11 and brain-derived neurotrophic factor, are key to making antidepressants work. In time, these results might lead to the development of faster-acting antidepressants with fewer side effects (Jennifer Warner-Schmidt, PhD, see attached speaker's summary).
"Finding treatments for disorders of the nervous system is a social imperative," said press conference moderator Robert Greene, MD, PhD, of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, an expert in psychiatric disorders. "Basic neuroscience research has formed the basis for significant progress in discovering potentially powerful strategies for new, more effective therapies to combat depression."

More information: www.sfn.org/am2010/press/OmniP … s/data/press/004.pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Fabric imbued with optical fibers helps fight skin diseases

February 23, 2018
A team of researchers with Texinov Medical Textiles in France has announced that their PHOS-ISTOS system, called the Fluxmedicare, is on track to be made commercially available later this year. The system consists of a piece ...

DNA gets away: Scientists catch the rogue molecule that can trigger autoimmunity

February 22, 2018
A research team has discovered the process - and filmed the actual moment - that can change the body's response to a dying cell. Importantly, what they call the 'Great Escape' moment may one day prove to be the crucial trigger ...

Low-calorie diet enhances intestinal regeneration after injury

February 22, 2018
Dramatic calorie restriction, diets reduced by 40 percent of a normal calorie total, have long been known to extend health span, the duration of disease-free aging, in animal studies, and even to extend life span in most ...

Artificial intelligence quickly and accurately diagnoses eye diseases and pneumonia

February 22, 2018
Using artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques, researchers at Shiley Eye Institute at UC San Diego Health and University of California San Diego School of Medicine, with colleagues in China, Germany and Texas, ...

Gut microbes protect against sepsis—mouse study

February 22, 2018
Sepsis occurs when the body's response to the spread of bacteria or toxins to the bloodstream damages tissues and organs. The fight against sepsis could get a helping hand from a surprising source: gut bacteria. Researchers ...

Fertility breakthrough: New research could extend egg health with age

February 22, 2018
Women have been told for years that if they don't have children before their mid-30s, they may not be able to. But a new study from Princeton University's Coleen Murphy has identified a drug that extends egg viability in ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.