Depression is a major mental health disorder plaguing the world over leads to millions of deaths every year. Now, scientists on the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have identified a new target for the treatment of depression. The research team led by Prof. Kirill Martemyanov has found a new protein receptor GPR158 which was higher in people with the major depressive disorder.
It is estimated that more than 16 million Americans and more than 10 million Indian are victims of this mental health disorder. On the flip side, the majority of the cases end up in suicides. The current methods of pharmacological treatment (antidepressants) for depression take a month to start working. This warrants the need to develop drugs that work in the majority of the patients and deliver quick effective treatment so that the loss is minimised.
To better understand the role of GPR158 receptor scientists examined both male and female mice with and without the receptor. The team found that the mice that have higher levels of GPR158 receptor displayed signs of depression following chronic stress. On the other hand, suppression of GPR158 receptors protected the mice from developing depressive behaviours. Hence these group of mice are resilient to depression following chronic stress.
In the next step, researchers analysed the role of GPR158 receptor on depression. The team found that GPR158 receptor affects the key signalling pathways responsible for mood regulation in a part of the brain called prefrontal cortex. However, the exact mechanism by which it is controlled is yet to be established. This study offers potential clues as to why some people are more susceptible to depression compared to others who are resilient to depression. This research further paves the way for the development of drugs targetting the GPR158receptor resulting in rapid and effective control of depression.
The Research study was published in the Journal eLife.