A study conducted by Finland-based scientists provided insights on how the brain regulates depression and anxiety at the molecular level by conducting experiments on mice. This could pave the way to the discovery of new drugs for treatment-resistant cases of mental disorders. The scientists from Åbo Akademi University in Finland in collaboration with their counterparts based in the United States have found that by controlling newly born nerve cells in the hippocampus region of the brain, one can control his or her mood as well as symptoms of anxiety and depression.
The researchers found that a protein called c-Jun N-terminal kinases (JNKs) is effective in repressing the production of new neurons in the hippocampus responsible for emotions and learning. The hindrance of JNK only in new nerve cells in the hippocampus resulted in the alleviation of the anxiety and depressive symptoms in mice. This new development can play a crucial role in case of many of the patients with mental disorders who do not respond to the current medications and are grappling with the challenges of treatment-resistant depression and other mental problems.
For these cases, JNK-inhibiting drugs could be of great help for devising useful treatment programs. This can assist in accelerating new developments in the field of antidepressant and anxiolytic drugs for the common diseases like anxiety and depression.
New findings to benefit treatment-resistant depression and anxiety cases
The results of the study are important because they highlight a new method of controlling the symptom-causing neurons that can contribute to the onset of anxiety and depression. The researchers using a virus tool located the JNK inhibitor acting region to improve moods. They zeroed in on the molecule and found that it has the potential to alleviate anxiety and depression by controlling newly born nerve cells in the hippocampus.
“This discovery opens up a rationale for developing new drugs for anxiety and depression,” according to Eleanor Coffey, research director, Åbo Akademi University, Finland. Coffey further added, “Indeed many JNK inhibitors have been developed already. Some are undergoing clinical testing for various indications.” The disorders, such as anxiety and depression, are highly prevalent and they account for largest number of cases of disability worldwide. Therefore, if a new method for containing the onset of the disorders is discovered, a large proportion of the population from all parts of the globe can leverage significant benefits.
Pathological reasoning behind the role of JNK
The generation of fresh neurons in the hippocampus during adult life known as adult hippocampal neurogenesis is responsible for diminishing anxiety behavior. Studies in mice show that antidepressants and/or electroconvulsive seizures (used to mimic therapy) promote the level of neurogenesis in the brain. It has been found that JNK inhibition helps neurogenesis in the hippocampus and reduces anxiety. The neurogenesis requirement for antidepressant drug action leads to the theory that the enhancement of adult hippocampal neurogenesis may prove useful in treating anxiety and depression.
Although the role of JNK in adult neurogenesis has not been explored completely yet, recent studies have linked the genetic anomalies on the JNK pathway with mental disorders. Thus, the mode of action of JNK in adult brain may reveal new opportunities for the treatment of mental illnesses, such as anxiety and depression.
Help is just a call away
While new developments and search for new methods to improve the overall level of depression and anxiety treatment should always be encouraged, there are some very effective treatment options to control these disorders nowadays. The only need is to act responsibly and look for state-of-the-art depression recovery centers that administer holistic treatment program that include medication, psychotherapies, experiential therapies and recovery management.
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