Brain Fitness Update: Neurogenesis And Depression

neurogenesis zoloft brain fitnessWe’ve reported before on the link between increased neurogenesis and a reduction in the symptoms of depression. Physical exercise, brain training with effective brain fitness software and antidepressants all increase neurogenesis and alleviate depression. Now, British scientists have apparently discovered just how antidepressants stimulate the production of new brain cells.

While other brain fitness studies had previously shown that antidepressants caused the growth of new brain cells, until now scientists had not understood the mechanisms involved.

A brain fitness study by researchers from King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry and published in “Molecular Psychiatry” shows that the antidepressants regulate the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) — a protein critical to the brain’s response to stress. All types of antidepressant are dependent on the GR to create new cells, the scientists said.

Depression is accompanied by a decrease neurogenesis; this and the neurogenesis promotion associated with antidepressants leads brain fitness researchers to believe that reduced neurogenesis may be contributing to the symptoms of depression.

The study reviewed the effects of Zoloft, known generically as sertraline — an SSRI used to treat depression (other SSRIs include Prozac and Paxil). But the results also hold true for serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), including Effexor and Cymbalta.

“For the first time in a clinically relevant model, we were able to show that antidepressants produce more stem cells and also accelerate their development into adult brain cells,” brain fitness researcher Anacker said. “A specific protein in the cell, the glucocorticoid receptor, is essential for this to take place,” he went on. “The antidepressants activate this protein which switches on particular genes that turn immature stem cells into adult brain cells.”

As we’ve said before, all of the brain fitness research into pharmaceutical stimulation of neurogenesis is great, but we shouldn’t forget the benefits of physical exercise and working memory training.

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.