Fueled by the desire to help patients who suffer from depression to receive improved medications, researchers at King’s College London were able to publish their findings yesterday of their look into neurogenesis, the adult brain’s ability to produce new brain cells.
Andrew Gordon of Lima, a long-term multiple sclerosis (MS)sufferer whose wife helps with caregiving, can tell people a lot about his anger and depression and wonders why no one else really talks about it.
“I drive myself crazy,” he says. “There will be days when I will hear or see something that seems so innocuous but I can go on a ranting session for an hour easy.”
There is a link between depression and anger. Anger is seen as a body’s way to modify how to deal with a threat and, since depression is a threat (the feeling of powerless in the face of MS symptoms), anger can often times only be a small step away.
It has been found that stress increases levels of cortisol, which then acts on a “receptor” called the glucocorticoid receptor (GR), but it wasn’t known how the GR decreases neurogenesis and this is what Professor Carmine Pariante and his fellow researchers were looking at:
“With as much as half of all depressed patients failing to improve with currently available medications, developing new, more effective antidepressants is an important priority,” he said. “In order to do this, we need to understand the abnormal mechanisms that we can target. Our study shows the importance of conducting research on cellular models, animal models and clinical samples, all under one roof in order to better facilitate the translation of laboratory findings to patient benefit.”
They had studied the hippocampal stem-cells, the hippocampus is the source of new brain cells and it has been found the atrophy of it in MS patients played a large role in the development of depression, and they uncovered that, by giving the cells cortisol; the protein called SGK1 appeared into the mix.
In a nutshell, they found SGK1 was able to prolong the negative aspects of stress hormones. By keeping the GR active even after the cortisol had left the cells, the SGK1 protein got in the way of the long-term “good” the cortisol had done. It inhibited neurogenesis.
Using animals models and depressive patient’s blood samples, the team used a pharmacological compound known as GSK650394 that obstructs SGK1 and discovered they were able to increase the growth of new brain cells.
Not only is this good news for those without MS, but also it is incredibly important for those that do.
Atrophy is an incredibly lousy affect for an MS patient and with depression and anger being so prevalent among patients (in the United States alone, there are around 350,000 reported cases of MS with a mind numbing 75% or more with depression and anger issues) combating this is extremely important.
First author Dr. Christoph Anacker states, “Because a reduction of neurogenesis is considered part of the process leading to depression, targeting the molecular pathways that regulate this process may be a promising therapeutic strategy. This novel mechanism may be particularly important for the effects of chronic stress on mood, and ultimately depressive symptoms. Pharmacological interventions aimed at reducing the levels of SGK1 in depressed patients may therefore be a potential strategy for future antidepressant treatments.”
Interesting Links: High Unexpressed Anger in Multiple Sclerosis Patients Linked to Nervous System Damage, Not Disease Severity
Sources: Paper reference: Anacker, C. et al. ‘A role for the kinase SGK1 in stress, depression and glucocorticoid effects on hippocampal neurogenesis’ Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) (May 2013); Journal Reference:
- Christoph Anacker, Annamaria Cattaneo, Ksenia Musaelyan, Patricia A. Zunszain, Mark Horowitz, Raffaella Molteni, Alessia Luoni, Francesca Calabrese, Katherine Tansey, Massimo Gennarelli, Sandrine Thuret, Jack Price, Rudolf Uher, Marco A. Riva, and Carmine M. Pariante. Role for the kinase SGK1 in stress, depression, and glucocorticoid effects on hippocampal neurogenesis. PNAS, May 6, 2013 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1300886110
http://www.msnews.org/ms-statistics/; http://www.livestrong.com/article/28037-can-depression-cause-anger/, Thorn Mote