Finding advances hope for potential new target for antidepressants
Researchers from Harvard Medical School have found a molecule that is unexpectedly involved in dopamine signaling, and in a manner that supports the potential of dopamine as an alternative target for treating depression. The results provide evidence that there is a molecular link between impaired dopamine signaling and depression, which affects 16 percent of the adult population in the United States. The research appears in the July 29 issue of Cell.
Li-Huei Tsai, Harvard Medical School (HMS) professor of pathology, HMS research fellow Sang Ki Park, and colleagues worked with mice and found a novel function for the molecule Par-4 (prostate apoptosis response 4)--as a binding partner for dopamine receptor D2. When mice deficient in Par-4 were subjected to stress, they showed depression-like behaviors, proposing Par-4–as a molecular link between dopamine signaling and depression. Par-4 was previously implicated as a proapoptotic factor in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimers disease. These new findings reveal an unexpected role for Par-4 in the dopamine system and present a rare glimpse of molecular mechanisms behind clinical depression.
Leah Gourley | EurekAlert!
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