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Researchers activate gene to reverse depression in mice

Published on 18/02/19 at 10:46am

Scientists at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University were able to directly activate a gene associated with depression and thus reverse symptoms of depression in male mice, according to a study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.  

In looking into the prefrontal cortex, the researchers found that making the SIRT1 gene inactive in excitatory neurons created symptoms of depression in male mice. A drug that activated SIRT1 thus reversed the symptoms of depression.  

The researchers believe that the firing of excitatory neurons was decreased in those with depression and thus drugs that target SIRT1, which promote activity in the excitatory neurons, may be key to treating depression. "It's like they are disconnected,” said Xin-Yun Lu who led the research.

Alternatively excessive firing in the excitatory neurons can lead to other problems such as manic episodes and seizures.

Thus drugs that activate the SIRT1 gene may one day be effective therapies for major depression. Lu now plans to look at existing drugs and explore the effects that they have on the SIRT1 gene.  

Louis Goss

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