Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mechanism For Postpartum Depression Found In Mice

Date:
July 31, 2008
Source:
NIH/National Institute of Mental Health
Summary:
Researchers have pinpointed a mechanism in the brains of mice that could explain why some human mothers become depressed following childbirth. The discovery could lead to improved treatment for postpartum depression. After giving birth, female mice bred to be deficient in a suspect protein showed depression-like behaviors and neglected their newborn pups. Giving a drug that restored the protein's function improved maternal behavior and reduced pup mortality.

Researchers have pinpointed a mechanism in the brains of mice that could explain why some human mothers become depressed following childbirth. The discovery could lead to improved treatment for postpartum depression. Supported in part by the National Institute of Mental Health, of the National Institutes of Health, the study used genetically engineered mice lacking a protein critical for adapting to the sex hormone fluctuations of pregnancy and the postpartum period.

"For the first time, we may have a highly useful model of postpartum depression," said NIMH Director Thomas R. Insel, M.D. "The new research also points to a specific potential new target in the brain for medications to treat this disorder that affects 15 percent of women after they give birth."

"After giving birth, female mice deficient in the suspect protein showed depression-like behaviors and neglected their newborn pups," explained Istvan Mody, Ph.D., of the University of California at Los Angeles, who led the research. "Giving a drug that restored the protein's function improved maternal behavior and reduced pup mortality."

Mody and Jamie Maguire, Ph.D., report on their findings in the July 31, 2008 issue of Neuron.

Researchers had suspected that postpartum depression stemmed from the marked fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone that accompany pregnancy and childbirth. Yet manipulating the hormones experimentally triggers depression only in women with a history of the disorder. The roots of their vulnerability remain a mystery.

Evidence suggested that the hormones exert their effects on mood through the brain's major inhibitory chemical messenger system, called GABA, which dampens neural activity, helping to regulate when a neuron fires.

Mody and Maguire discovered that a GABA receptor subunit fluctuated conspicuously during pregnancy and postpartum in the brains of female mice, hinting that it might have pivotal behavioral effects. To find out, they used mice lacking the gene for this subunit and studied them in situations that can elicit responses similar to human depression and anxiety.

Much like human mothers suffering from postpartum depression, the genetically altered mouse mothers were more lethargic and less pleasure-seeking than normal mice. They also shunned their pups and failed to make proper nests for them.

This abnormal maternal behavior was reversed and pup survival increased after the researchers gave the animals a drug called THIP that acts on the receptor in a way that specifically restores its function in spite of the reduced number of subunits.

"Improper functioning of the subunit could impair the GABA system's ability to adapt to hormone fluctuations during the highly vulnerable post partum period," explained Maguire. "Targeting this subunit might be a promising strategy in developing new treatments for postpartum depression."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NIH/National Institute of Mental Health. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Maguire J, Mody I. GABAAR plasticity during pregnancy: relevance to postpartum depression. Neuron, 2008 Jul 31

Cite This Page:

NIH/National Institute of Mental Health. "Mechanism For Postpartum Depression Found In Mice." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 July 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080730140613.htm>.
NIH/National Institute of Mental Health. (2008, July 31). Mechanism For Postpartum Depression Found In Mice. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080730140613.htm
NIH/National Institute of Mental Health. "Mechanism For Postpartum Depression Found In Mice." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080730140613.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A new study shows sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to remember specific details of an event. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

Newsy (July 25, 2014) An online quiz from a required course at Ohio State is making waves for suggesting atheists are inherently smarter than Christians. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins