Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


New discoveries on depression

During depression, the brain becomes less plastic and adaptable, and thus less able to perform certain tasks, like storing memories.

Researchers at Karolinska Institutet have now traced the brain's lower plasticity to reduced functionality in its support cells, and believe that learning more about these cells can pave the way for radical new therapies for depression.

"We were able to cure memory dysfunction in 'depressed' rats by giving them doses of D-serine," says Mia Lindskog, biologist and Assistant Professor at Karolinska Institutet's Department of Neuroscience.

Dr Lindskog and her team used FSL rats, which are rats that have been specially bred with a disposition for 'depression'. The rats were first put through two tests to confirm that they had the symptoms that are also characteristic of human depression. In the first, the rats' memories were checked by repeatedly being exposed to different objects; in the second, the team assessed their level of apathy by releasing them in a container of water and observing whether they merely stayed floating in the container or immediately tried to climb out (non of the rats had to stay in the water for more than five minutes). In both cases the FSL rats' results were compared with normal laboratory rats, and memory disorders and apathy could be confirmed.

The researchers then injected the rats with D-serine. This substance improved their memories but had no effect on the apathy.

"We have shown that there are two symptoms here that can be influenced independently of one another, which means they could be treated in tandem in patients with depression," says Dr Lindskog.

The researchers also studied the synaptic activity in the hippocampus of the rats, a part of the brain which plays an important part in the memory. They found that there was a much higher degree of synaptic activity in the brains of the depressed rats than in the controls. However, when the researchers tried to increase the level of signal transmission, they found the brains of the depressed rats to be unresponsive, which indicated that they had a lower plasticity that rendered them unable to increase neuronal activity when needed - unlike the brains of the healthy rats. When the brain samples were soaked in D-serine, the plasticity of the depressed rats' brains improved.

D-serine is a substance secreted by astrocytes, which are support cells for brain neurons.

"We don't actually know very much about these glial cells, but it's very likely that they perform a very important function in the brain," says Dr Lindskog.

It is hoped that their discoveries will eventually lead to new therapies for depression.

"D-serine doesn't pass the blood-brain barrier particularly well, so it's not really a suitable candidate on which to base a drug, but the mechanism that we've identified, whereby it's possible to increase plasticity and improve the memory, is a feasible route that we might be able to reach in a way that doesn't involve D-serine," says Dr Lindskog.


Marta Gómez-Galán, Dimitri De Bundel, Ann Van Eeckhaut, Ilse Smolders & Maria Lindskog

Dysfunctional Astrocytic Regulation of Glutamate Transmission in a Rat Model of Depression

Molecular Psychiatry, online 28 February 2012

For further information, please contact:
Assistant Professor Mia Lindskog
Work: +46 (0)8 524 87081 Mobile: +46 (0)703 173272

Katarina Sternudd | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Advanced analysis of brain structure shape may track progression to Alzheimer's disease
26.10.2016 | Massachusetts General Hospital

nachricht Indian roadside refuse fires produce toxic rainbow
26.10.2016 | Duke University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel light sources made of 2D materials

Physicists from the University of Würzburg have designed a light source that emits photon pairs. Two-photon sources are particularly well suited for tap-proof data encryption. The experiment's key ingredients: a semiconductor crystal and some sticky tape.

So-called monolayers are at the heart of the research activities. These "super materials" (as the prestigious science magazine "Nature" puts it) have been...

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Steering a fusion plasma toward stability

28.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Bioluminescent sensor causes brain cells to glow in the dark

28.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Activation of 2 genes linked to development of atherosclerosis

28.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>