Scientists have unveiled a functional link between production of new neurons and the effectiveness of antidepressants (ADs) in an animal model. The study, published by Cell Press in the August 14 issue of the journal Neuron, provides exciting insight into a mechanism that might underlie a poor response to antidepressive medications for anxiety or depression.
Depression is a significant public health problem due to both its high prevalence and its devastating impact on individuals and society," says senior author Dr. Luis F. Parada from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. "Despite much excitement generated by recent advances in the knowledge of brain development and function, the mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of depression, as well as its amelioration by AD treatment, remain poorly understood."
Animal studies have indicated that chronic treatment with ADs leads to production of new neurons in a part of the brain called the hippocampus. Exercise, such as running, which has a documented positive impact on mental health, also stimulates hippocampal neurogenesis. In both cases, new neurons arise from neural progenitor cells (NPCs) that seem to be required for the behavioral response to ADs.
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