A recent article posted by ScienceDaily talks about genetic manipulation that can boost the growth of brain cells that are linked to learning as well as enhance the effects of antidepressants. The research performed on mice came from UT Southwestern Medical Center.
The article in ScienceDaily talks about what happens when researches deleted the Nfl gene in mice. The results showed long-lasting improvements in neurogenesis which can also contribute to higher sensitivity to antidepressants.
A higher sensitivity to antidepressants opens up the possibility for lower doses. Dr. Luis Prada, director of Kent Waldrep Center for Basic Research on Nerve Growth and Regeneration, and the research also revealed that by enhancing neurogenesis it “appears to have anti-depressive and anti-anxiety effects of its own that continue over time.”
Mice and people both produce new neurons throughout adulthood, but the rate declines with age and stress. Ways of increasing neurogenesis are by learning, exercising, receiving electroconvulsive therapy and taking some antidepressants.
Dr. Parada, an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, its Institute of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences says “In neurogenesis, stem cells in the brain’s hippocampus give rise to neuronal precursor cells that eventually become young neurons, which continue on to become full-fledged neurons that integrate into the brain’s synapses.”
The Nfl gene was deleted by researchers with a sophisticated process that codes for the Nfl protein only in the brains of mice, while production in other tissues continued normally. After the gene was removed, researchers conducted behavioral tests of the mice lacking the Nfl protein comparing them to the control mice. These tests were designed to mimic situations that would spark a subdued mood or anxiety.
The test results persisted at 3 months, six months and 9 months and showed that the test group mice formed more neurons over time compared to control mice. The younger mice of the test group required much lower amounts of anti-depressants to counteract the effects of stress. Dr. Parada also said “Older mice lacking the protein responded as if they had been taking antidepressants all their lives.”
“In summary, this work suggests that activating neural precursor cells could directly improve depression – and anxiety-like behaviors, and it provides a proof-of-principal regarding the feasibility of regulating behavior via direct manipulation of adult neurogenesis,” Dr. Parada said.
As attorneys who represent clients with traumatic brain injuries, the personal injury attorneys at Fisher Stark are excited about this new research and advances to brain injury science by Dr. Parada. If you have legal questions about a brain injury that you or a loved one has suffered, please feel free to give us a call at 828.505.4300.