Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have discovered in mice that the brain must create new nerve cells for either exercise or antidepressants to reduce depression-like behavior. In addition, the researchers found that antidepressants and exercise use the same biochemical pathway to exert their effects.
These results might help explain some unknown mechanisms of antidepressants and provide a new direction for developing drugs to treat depression, said Dr. Luis Parada, chairman of developmental biology and senior author of a study in the journal Neuron.
In animals, it was already known that long-term treatment with antidepressants causes new nerve cells to be generated in a part of the brain called the dentate gyrus. Exercise, which can also relieve the symptoms of depression, stimulates the generation of new nerve cells in the same area.
“We would never claim that what we study in mice directly relates to how antidepressants work in humans, but there are interesting features in parallel,” Dr. Parada said. “The study unifies different observations that point to the brain’s dentate gyrus region and to creation of nerve cells as being important in depression.”
Release date: August 28, 2008
Source: UT Southwestern Medical Center
Filed Under: Drug Discovery