With increasing intensity of depression among American adults, 1 in 10 as said, it has become obligatory for medical science to find new ways to treat this disorders. Some contemporary researchers from Texas Southwestern Medical Center claim that they have found breakthrough knowledge in this regard.
A team of researchers including Dr. Jeffrey Zigman, who is an associate professor of internal medicine and psychiatry at UT Southwestern, state that they have found the mechanism of working of ghrelin, a naturally occurring antidepressant, inside the brain.
Furthermore, they say that they have unveiled a neuro-protactive drug which has proved to be a potent antidepressant effects.
The hormone, ghrelin, can stimulate production of new neurons known as neurogenesis in the hippocampus, a part of brain which is known for its control over memory, mood and complex eating behaviors, found in the latest study by the Zigman team.
Neurogenesis is boosted by P7C3 compounds
In 2010, another team of researchers from UT Southwestern discovered P7C3 compounds, Zigman team wanted to determine whether these enhance ghrelin antidepressant effect or not.
Previously, P7C3 compounds were proved to have neuroprotective effects against certain diseases like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson's disease and traumatic brain injury. Now, it seems that these compounds could also help treat depression.
P7C3 compounds have positive effect on ghrelin antidepressant effect because they increase ghrelin neurogenesis. Moreover, they found that highly active analog of these compounds, P7C3 -A20, boost neuron formation much more than any other currently available antidepressant drugs.
Dr. Zigman adds:
"By investigating the way the so-called 'hunger hormone' ghrelin works to limit the extent of depression following long-term exposure to stress, we discovered what could become a brand new class of antidepressant drugs."
The investigators say their findings suggest that the P7C3 compounds could prompt a good treatment response in people with depression linked to chronic stress, or in conditions that have been described in people with obesity or anorexia nervosa like those with altered ghrelin levels or ghrelin resistance.
The team says that in future studies, they want to apply their findings to other forms of depression, as well as create clinical trials to determine whether P7C3 compounds have antidepressant effects for individuals with major depressive disorder.