Scientists have identified the reason women might not respond to depression treatments as well as men. ScienceDaily


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There are many treatment options for depression. However, not all treatments work for everyone. Women are more likely to experience depression than men. However, the reason for this is not known. This makes their illness even more difficult to treat.

Researchers from the University of California, Davis teamed up to Mt. Princeton University, Sinai Hospital, and Laval University, Quebec collaborated with researchers from University of California, Davis to study how depression affects a particular part of the brain, called the nucleus. Depression can affect motivation, social interaction and response to rewarding experiences.

Analyses of the nucleus-accumbens have shown that different genes are turned on and off in women but not in those with depression. These changes could have led to depression symptoms, or the brain could be affected by the depressive experience. The researchers looked at mice who had been exposed to negative social interactions. This can lead to depression in males and females.

“These high-throughput analysis are extremely informative for understanding the long-lasting effects on the brain of stress. Alexia Williams, a recent UC Davis graduate and doctoral researcher, led the studies. She said that negative social interactions altered gene expression patterns in female mice in a rodent model. This was similar to what we saw in depression patients. “This finding is very exciting as women have not been well studied in this field. It allowed me to concentrate my attention on its relevance for women’s health.

This month, the journal published the study “Comparative transcriptional analysis in the nucleus.cumbens identifies RGS2 als a key mediator in depression-related behaviour.” Biological Psychiatry.

After discovering similar molecular differences in brains of mice, humans and other animals, researchers selected one gene regulator of g proteins signaling-2 or Rgs2 to manipulate. This gene controls the expression a protein that regulates neurotransmitter receptors. These receptors are targeted by antidepressant medication like Prozac and Zoloft. Brian Trainor, a UC Davis psychology professor and senior author of the study, stated that “in humans, less stable forms of the Rgs2 proteins are associated with an increased risk of developing depression. So we were curious whether increasing Rgs2 levels in the nucleus accumbens might reduce depression-related behavior.” He is also affiliated faculty with the Center for Neuroscience. He directs the Behavioral Neuroendocrinology lab at UC Davis.

Researchers experimented with increasing Rgs2 protein within the nucleus of mice to reverse stress effects on female mice. They observed that female mice’s social behavior and preference for food increased to levels not seen in females who had not experienced stress.

“These findings highlight a molecular mechanism that contributes to the lack motivation often seen in depressed patients.” Williams stated that symptoms such as depression and anxiety may be caused by a reduced function of proteins such Rgs2.

Researchers said that findings from basic science studies like this one could be used to help develop pharmacotherapies that can effectively treat depression.

Williams said, “Our hope is to bring science one step closer in developing new treatments for those who are most in need.”

In addition to Trainor and Williams, co-authors include, from Princeton University, Catherine Peña; from Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Randal Serafini, Anne Ruiz, Venetia Zachariou and Eric Nestler; from Laval University, Benoit Labonte; from Massachusetts General Hospital, Rachel Neve; and Stephanie Ramos-Maciel, Abigail Laman-Maharg, Evelyn Ordoñez-Sanchez, Monica Britton, Blyther Durbin-Johnson, Matt Settles, Rebecca Hao, Sae Yokoyama, Christine Xu, Pei Luo, Tjien Dwyer, Shanu Bhela and Alexis Black, all UC Davis researchers.


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