Navigation Links
Discovery of pathway leading to depression reveals new drug targets
Date:12/6/2012

Scientists have identified the key molecular pathway leading to depression, revealing potential new targets for drug discovery, according to research led by King's College London's Institute of Psychiatry. The study, published today in Neuropsychopharmacology, reveals for the first time that the 'Hedgehog pathway' regulates how stress hormones, usually elevated during depression, reduce the number of brain cells.

Depression affects approximately 1 in 5 people in the UK at some point in their lives. The severity of symptoms can range from feelings of sadness and hopelessness to, in the most severe cases, self-harm or suicide. Treatment for depression involves either medication or talking treatment, or usually a combination of the two.

Recent studies have demonstrated that depression is associated with a reduction in a brain process called 'neurogenesis'- the ability of the brain to produce new brain cells. However, the pathway responsible for this process has, until now, remained unknown.

In this study, Dr Christoph Anacker from King's Institute of Psychiatry and his team studied human stem cells, which are the source of new cells in the human brain, to investigate the effect of stress hormones on brain cell development. The study was funded by the National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Centre for Mental Health at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and King's College London and the Medical Research Council UK.

Stress hormones, such as cortisol, are generally elevated in stress and depression. The team studied stem cells in a laboratory and found that high concentrations of cortisol damaged these stem cells and reduced the number of newborn brain cells. They discovered that a specific signalling mechanism in the cell, the 'Hedgehog pathway', is responsible for this process. Then, using an animal model, the team confirmed that exposure to stress inhibited this pathway in the brain.

Finally, in order to test the findings, the researchers used a compound called purmorphamine, which is known to stimulate the Hedgehog pathway. They found that by using this drug, they were able to reverse the damaging effects of stress hormones, and normalise the production of new brain cells.

Dr Christoph Anacker, lead author of the study from King's Institute of Psychiatry says: "By decreasing the number of new-born cells in the human brain, stress hormones damage many important brain functions and may contribute to the development of depression after a period of chronic stress. By inhibiting the Hedgehog signalling pathway, stress hormones reduce the development of immature 'stem' cells into mature 'brain' cells."

Dr. Anacker continues: "With as much as half of all depressed patients failing to improve with currently available treatments, developing new, more effective antidepressants still remains a great challenge, which makes it crucial to identify new potential mechanisms to target. The discovery of antidepressants has so far been mainly by serendipity. Developing a drug with a defined effect on the brain, such as increasing the number of new-born brain cells, and with a clear target, such as Hedgehog signalling, will allow us to develop much more specific antidepressants in the future."


'/>"/>

Contact: Seil Collins
seil.collins@kcl.ac.uk
44-207-848-5377
King's College London
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Discovery of 100 million-year-old regions of DNA shows short cut to crop science advances
2. Discovery of molecular pathway of Alzheimers disease reveals new drug targets
3. The Journal of Biological Chemistry commemorates an important 1987 discovery
4. GW Research chosen as paper of the week for blood coagulation discovery
5. NIH-funded genetic sequencing tool speeds drug discovery, disease diagnostics
6. Discovery of reprogramming signature may help further stem cell-based regenerative medicine research
7. King Richard III search in new phase after discovery has potential to rewrite history
8. New discovery related to gum disease
9. Cant smell anything? This discovery may give you hope
10. Chemicals today, drugs tomorrow: U-Ms new Center for Drug Discovery
11. Molecular movies may accelerate anti-cancer drug discovery
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:11/19/2016)... Securus Technologies, a leading provider of civil ... corrections and monitoring, announced today that it has offered ... an independent technology judge determine who has the largest ... telephone calling platform, and the best customer service. ... of what we do – which clearly is not ...
(Date:11/17/2016)... 2016  AIC announces that it has just released a new white paper authored ... scale-out plus high speed data transfer storage solutions. Photo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20161116/440463 ... ... ... Setting up a high performance computing or HPC system ...
(Date:11/15/2016)... , Nov. 15, 2016  Synthetic Biologics, Inc. ... therapeutics focused on the gut microbiome, today announced ... 25,000,000 shares of its common stock and warrants ... at a price to the public of $1.00 ... Synthetic Biologics from the offering, excluding the proceeds, ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/6/2016)... AUSTIN, Texas , Dec. 6, 2016 ... Naturopathica for its adoption of arnica ( Arnica ... provides support to ABC,s HerbMedPro database, ... to important scientific and clinical research data on ... 250 popular herbs. Naturopathica, a wellness ...
(Date:12/6/2016)... ... December 06, 2016 , ... ... Almac Group, the world’s largest privately-held contract pharmaceutical development and manufacturing organisation, ... a leading biopharma outsourcing company combining a leading CRO and the industry’s ...
(Date:12/6/2016)... ... December 06, 2016 , ... Discovering new clues to natural treatments that ... what’s happening in our brains. And searching for keys to our immune systems by ... honored with the 2017 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Awards by The ...
(Date:12/6/2016)... ... December 06, 2016 , ... Symbios Technologies, ... that the company has engaged in a collaborative research partnership with Colorado State ... CSU Office of the Vice President for Research. This agreement is designed to ...
Breaking Biology Technology: