Depression: Link to brain protein holds promise for new treatments

New treatment options for depression could become a reality in the future thanks to new research out of the University of Victoria.

The health condition, which affects more than 300 million people, is a leading cause of disability worldwide and the highest risk factor for suicide. Through examining what happens inside the brain’s cells in order to better understand how depression occurs, UVic neuroscientist Lisa Kalynchuk and her team are hoping their research can help to improve the future for depression sufferers.

Kalynchuk and her team started out studying a large protein called reelin, responsible for many different cell-to-cell interactions in the brain. They found a correlation between decreased levels of reelin and increased levels of depressive symptoms, both in animals and humans.

In lab rats suffering from depressive symptoms, an infusion of reelin provided immediate relief.

“We know reelin is found in the brain, but it’s also found in the immune system, which is itself linked to depression,” said Kalynchuk, UVic’s associate vice-president of research, who worked on the research with doctoral student Josh Allen, post-doctoral fellow Raquel Romay-Tallon, and neuroscientist Hector Caruncho.

“We also know that certain immune factors are linked to the building blocks of cells, so we began thinking about how activities within individual cells might be implicated in depression.”

The team, based out of UVic’s Division of Medical Sciences, focused on the mitochondria – a cell component that, among other things, produces energy for the cells.

If mitochondria aren’t working properly, cells may not be able to produce enough reelin, which the team’s research had strongly correlated with depression.

“We’re trying to propose a new neurobiological theory for what causes depression, which can then be used to develop new treatments that will work more quickly, in more patients, and with fewer side-effects,” said Kalynchuk.

Kalynchuk anticipates further studies will identify other cells and systems tied to depression. These studies could lead to novel treatments, such as repairing mitochondria and other cell functions, and could eventually result in alternatives to anti-depressant drugs, which are effective in only half of patients experiencing depression.

Kalynchuk is lead author of the peer-reviewed paper, Mitochondria and Mood: Mitochondrial Dysfunction as a Key Player in the Manifestation of Depression, published in Frontiers in Neuroscience.


 

keri.coles@oakbaynews.com

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

‘Coffee with a cop’ heads to North Saanich

Semi-regular event branches out to Deep Cove Market, Dec. 19

Remember Spunky? Santa came out to Sidney to check on him

Red-tailed Hawk made headlines last year after being stolen, raised by eagles

MISSING: 59-year-old Pamela Fletcher

Fletcher was last seen in the area near Royal Jubilee Hospital on Dec. 10

Mainroad South Island reminds drivers to keep them in the loop

Call the hotlines for concerns on local provincial highways

Hockey gear stolen from visiting team in Victoria

Banff midget team reported missing equipment on Dec. 14

VIDEO: Royals reveal the images on their Christmas cards

Prince William and his wife Kate are shown outside in casual clothes, their three young children in tow

POLL: Are you dreaming of a white Christmas?

The rain Vancouver Island is famous for is coming down in buckets,… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Dec. 11, 2018

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

ICBC to apply for 6.3% hike to basic insurance rates

Crown Corporation said it will be submitting its next basic rate application to the British Columbia Utilities Commission Friday

Media, robotics, Indigenous studies coming to B.C. Grade 12 classrooms in 2019-20

Provincial tests are also being changed for students in Grade 10 to 12, the Education Ministry said

Stranded B.C. trucker writes final wishes before being rescued 3 days later

‘I was just praying someone would come along’

Canfor Corp. extending temporary curtailment of sawmills in B.C.; cutting hours

Vancouver-based company says the decision is due to declining lumber prices, high log costs and log supply constraints

Canada’s prospective world junior team members await final roster decisions

Thirty-four players were invited to the national junior selection camp

Woman guilty of impaired driving in death of Vancouver Island pedestrian

Man in his 70s killed in 2016 Courtenay multi-vehicle incident

Most Read