A New Form of Depression Has Been Discovered | Inverse

– There are an estimated
322 million people in this world that suffer from depression. But only half of them
respond to treatment. Why is that? Scientists at Hiroshima
University recently discovered something that could lead to
better and more focused types of treatment for these people. RGS8 is a protein that
could be at the core of millions of cases of depression. 90% of prescription
anti-depressants are meant to treat low levels of serotonin and
norepinephrine in the brain. These neurochemicals, or a lack thereof, are thought to be the
main causes of depression. And while this is true in many cases, over 30% of the people
who take these drugs don’t respond to them at all. So what this new study suggests is that for some people
depression isn’t linked to these chemicals and so the drugs that are meant to treat them don’t work. Dr. Yumiko Saito and her team discovered that RGS8 controls a hormone receptor in the brain know as MCHR1. MCHR1 is important in regulating
mood, your eating habits, your sleep patterns and
your motor movements. And as anyone who’s experienced
depression before knows, these play a significant role
in the development of disease. Because when you’re depressed
you may have an altered mood, trouble sleeping, trouble
eating, and feel lethargic. Dr. Saito and her team
discovered that RGS8 has the ability to inactive
the hormone receptor and when the hormone
receptor is inactivated, the symptoms of depression became worse. This led to the theory that
decreased amounts of RGS8 leads to an increased chance
of experiencing depression. And so their hypothesis,
changing the amount of RGS8 in the body
would effect a person’s likelihood of experiencing depression. And so they ran a series of tests on mice. One group was modified to
have increased levels of RGS8 and the other was a control group. After the tests, they
discovered that the mice with increased levels of this protein had far fewer signs of depression. Another interesting discovery is that in the brain scans of the mice,
those that were engineered to have more RGS8 were
not only less depressed, they also had longer cilia in
the cells of the hippocampus. Cilia are organelles that are known to aid in cellular communication. Dysfunctional cilia are known to be linked to obesity and kidney problems. But this new finding suggests they might be linked to mood disorders as well. And if RGS8 can help
maintain cilia, then this is a very big step in the
field of mental health research and that is definitely a positive thing. (upbeat music) (bright chimes)

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