Stress can trigger depression but it wasn’t known how. A new study at the University of Yale has found the gene that plays role in this mechanism. The gene called REDD1 is responsible for triggering depression by enabling stress to damage brain cells.
Researchers found that out when they deleted REDD1 in mice. After deletion, scientists were able to block the effects of stress in mice.
Before this, in recent researches scientists had also discovered that Ketamine, a drug, activates the mTORC1 pathway, which spurs the synthesis of synaptic proteins and connections whereas in this study, it was seen that expression of gene REDD1 blocks mTORC1 activity and decreases the synaptic connections. Thus when deleted, REDD1 couldn’t result in detrimental behavioral and synaptic effects caused by stress.
On the other hand, when the gene was over-expressed loss of synaptic connections was observed in mice consequence of which was increased depression and anxiety.
This study is also supported by the previous finding in which the postmortem examinations of people who had suffered from depression showed high levels of REDD1 in cortical regions associated with depression.
These findings have been implemented in developing a new classes of antidepressants, currently undergoing clinical trails. Now, combining previous research with this new study, scientists are hopeful that they might be able to provide a new drug that aims directly at the negative effects of stress and blocking them permanently.
- Source: Yale University