Depression is a mental disorder that requires psychological support for its proper diagnosis as well as treatment. However, many a times, depression remains undiagnosed and untreated as it is often passed off as a normal case of worry and sadness.
In an effort to enhance the diagnosis of the disorder, the RIKEN Center for Life Science Technology (CLST) in Japan has devised a new technique to detect depression by using non-invasive methods and to determine the efficacy of the drugs used to treat the mental condition.
Hippocampal neurogenesis with depression
As neurogenesis in the hippocampal dentate gyrus is known to be associated with depression and the effect of antidepressants, the scientists were keen on developing techniques to analyze cell proliferation in the subventricular zone and subgranular zone of the hippocampal dentate gyrus. These two areas are referred to as neurogenic regions, where new neurons are formed during the course of life. Since it is difficult to oversee the process of neurogenesis through non-invasive methods, the scientists aimed to find a non-invasive test to detect depression.
Previous studies found that depression could be detected through positron emission tomography (PET), using a marker molecule known as (18F) FLT to monitor cell proliferation. But, the method did not prove effective as there was no significant difference in the strength of signal between areas with or without cell proliferation. The researchers inferred that this could be due to the fact that molecule (18F) FLT was pumped out of the brain through the blood-brain barrier, leaving behind insufficient concentration of the molecule to carry out effective imaging.
Scientists find non-invasive test to give objective evidence of depression
To find out the barriers behind imaging studies, the scientists conducted a series of experiments on rats. They injected the animals with probenecid, a drug that prevents the movement of (18F) FLT molecule out of the brain. The visible signals of neurogenesis were observed in the neurogenic regions, and moreover, these signals were diminished in the hippocampal dentate gyrus of rats that received corticosterone to generate depressive symptoms.
In fact, when the rats received selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) to treat depression, they experienced a rise in cell proliferation, which clearly showed that the antidepressant was working to neutralize the loss of neurogenesis resulting from the use of corticosterone drug.
“This is a very interesting finding, because it has been a longtime dream to find a non-invasive test that can give objective evidence of depression and simultaneously show whether drugs are working in a given patient. We have shown that it is possible,” said lead researcher Yosky Kataoka.
However, it is yet to see whether this technique can be effective in humans also even though the same regions in the human brain are known to be involved in depression.
The discoveries and advances in the field of psychiatry have made it possible for patients of depression to gain complete convalescence and live a normal life. Hence, it is important to be aware of the core symptoms of the illness so that effective remedial steps can be taken.
If you or your loved one is battling depression or any other mental illness, you must seek professional help. Take the first step towards a joyful life and call the Florida Mental Health Helpline to find one of the best rehab centers in Florida. You may call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-846-5588 or chat online with our experts to get information on the best mental disorder treatment in Florida.