Hormone curbs depressive-like symptoms in stressed mice

July 9, 2012

A hormone with anti-diabetic properties also reduces depression-like symptoms in mice, researchers from the School of Medicine at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio reported today.

All types of current antidepressants, including tricyclics and , increase the risk for . "The finding offers a novel target for , and would be especially beneficial for those who have type 2 diabetes or who are at high risk for developing it," said the study's senior author, Xin-Yun Lu, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmacology and psychiatry and member of the Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies at the UT Health Science Center.

The hormone, called adiponectin, is secreted by adipose tissue and sensitizes the body to the action of insulin, a hormone that lowers blood sugar. "We showed that adiponectin levels in plasma are reduced in a chronic social defeat stress model of depression, which correlates with the degree of social aversion," Dr. Lu said.

Facing Goliath over and over

In the study mice were exposed to 14 days of repeated social defeat stress. Each male mouse was introduced to the home cage of an unfamiliar, aggressive resident mouse for 10 minutes and physically defeated. After the defeat, the resident mouse and the intruder mouse each were housed in half of the cage separated by a perforated plastic divider to allow visual, olfactory and auditory contact for the remainder of the 24-hour period. Mice were exposed to a new resident mouse cage and subjected to social defeat each day. Plasma adiponectin concentrations were determined after the last social defeat session. Defeated mice displayed lower plasma adiponectin levels.

Withdrawal, lost pleasure and helplessness

When adiponectin concentrations were reduced by deleting one allele of the adiponectin gene or by a neutralizing antibody, mice were more susceptible to stress-induced , anhedonia (lost capacity to experience pleasure) and learned helplessness.

Mice that were fed a high-fat diet (60 percent calories from fat) for 16 weeks developed obesity and type 2 diabetes. Administration of adiponectin to these mice and of normal weight produced antidepressant-like effects.

Possible innovative approach for depression

"These findings suggest a critical role of adiponectin in the development of depressive-like behaviors and may lead to an innovative therapeutic approach to fight depression," Dr. Lu said.

A novel approach would benefit thousands. "So far, only about half of the patients suffering from major depressive disorders are treated to the point of remission with antidepressant drugs," Dr. Lu said. "The prevalence of depression in the diabetic population is two to three times higher than in the non-diabetic population. Unfortunately, the use of current antidepressants can worsen the control of diabetic patients. Adiponectin, with its anti-diabetic activity, would serve as an innovative therapeutic target for depression treatments, especially for those individuals with diabetes or prediabetes and perhaps those who fail to respond to currently available antidepressants."

The study is published in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Explore further: Low serum adiponectin levels predict future risk for asthma in women

More information: “Adiponectin is critical in determining susceptibility to depressive behaviors and has antidepressant-like activity,” by Jing Liu et al. PNAS.

Related Stories

Low serum adiponectin levels predict future risk for asthma in women

March 23, 2012
Low serum adiponectin levels predict an increased future risk for developing asthma in middle-aged women, particularly among smokers, according to a new study.

Diabetes drug side effects traced to fat action

July 5, 2011
For better or worse, a popular class of anti-diabetic drugs does more than lower blood sugar. One known as rosiglitazone (trade name Avandia) has been in the spotlight for its possible link to increased cardiovascular events, ...

Another potential risk factor for developing dementia and Alzheimer's disease in women

January 2, 2012
A hormone derived from visceral fat called adiponectin may play a role as a risk factor for development of all-cause dementia and Alzheimer disease (AD) in women, according to a study published Online First by the Archives ...

Recommended for you

Make way for hemoglobin

August 18, 2017
Every cell in the body, whether skin or muscle or brain, starts out as a generic cell that acquires its unique characteristics after undergoing a process of specialization. Nowhere is this process more dramatic than it is ...

Bio-inspired materials give boost to regenerative medicine

August 18, 2017
What if one day, we could teach our bodies to self-heal like a lizard's tail, and make severe injury or disease no more threatening than a paper cut?

Female mouse embryos actively remove male reproductive systems

August 17, 2017
A protein called COUP-TFII determines whether a mouse embryo develops a male reproductive tract, according to researchers at the National Institutes of Health and their colleagues at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston. The ...

Two-step process leads to cell immortalization and cancer

August 17, 2017
A mutation that helps make cells immortal is critical to the development of a tumor, but new research at the University of California, Berkeley suggests that becoming immortal is a more complicated process than originally ...

Are stem cells the link between bacteria and cancer?

August 17, 2017
Gastric carcinoma is one of the most common causes of cancer-related deaths, primarily because most patients present at an advanced stage of the disease. The main cause of this cancer is the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, ...

New Pathology Atlas maps genes in cancer to accelerate progress in personalized medicine

August 17, 2017
A new Pathology Atlas is launched today with an analysis of all human genes in all major cancers showing the consequence of their corresponding protein levels for overall patient survival. The difference in expression patterns ...

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.