Mental health studies and research focus on depression treatment and the factors that lead to it. Researchers at the Karolinska Institutet found a protein that regulated the release of serotonin which affects the mood. The study was carried out on mice and the protein regulated release of stress hormones.
The findings of this study published in Molecular Psychiatry.
The identification of this protein can revolutionize depression treatment and medication for anxiety disorders. Stress and trauma can deeply affect some people and result in mental health disorders. Some people develop anxiety and depression after going through a highly stressful episode. Meanwhile, science is still looking at how this phenomenon occurs in the body.
The Karolinska Institutet research team found that p11, a protein found in the brain helps regulate serotonin levels in the body. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter and it helps regulate emotions and mood.
Patients with signs of anxiety and depression show lower levels of the p11 protein. Researchers observed the same phenomenon in mice as well. The laboratory mice showed mental health disorders with a lower level of this protein. However, the level of p11 rises in mice under the influence of antidepressant drugs.
According to the latest research, p11 protein helps release three different stress hormones in the body. It stimulates the release of cortisol by acting on the hypothalamus region of the brain. Later it also causes the release of adrenaline hormone and noradrenaline hormones.
The research also shows the difference between stress levels of mice with and without normal p11 levels. Mice with a deficiency of this protein have higher stress levels, high heart rate with other symptoms of anxiety. Meanwhile, the other group of mice does not show any stress or anxiety signs.
Vasco Sousa is a researcher from the Department of Clinical Neuroscience at the Karolinska Institutet. He is the senior author in this study as well. Vasco said that high stress levels in the body can lead to mental health disorders. It can also worsen any previous conditions such as depression. Hence, the researchers need to find out if the function of p11 protein is the same in mice and humans.
According to the researchers, this study can help develop new medications and depression treatment. Some of the available antidepressants do not work the same for many mental health patients. Hence, there is a necessity for more effective drugs for such people.
Per Svenningsson is a professor at the Karolinska Institutet and he is the lead researcher in this study. Professor Svenningsson said that an agent that stimulates the release of p11 protein can help in the treatment of such disorders. Meanwhile, many researchers are conducting their studies on this research using lab animals.
Mental health disorders are on the rise during the coronavirus pandemic. Several people suffer from depression and anxiety due to the pandemic. Factors such as social distancing and unemployment led many people to show signs of extreme stress and anxiety. Meanwhile, such advancements in understanding the cause of depression can lead to better treatment options for such people.