Antidepressants Boost Neuron Growth Factor | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 85 Issue 11 | p. 34 | Concentrates
Issue Date: March 12, 2007

Antidepressants Boost Neuron Growth Factor

Department: Science & Technology

Drug or electroshock treatments for depression appear to work by encouraging formation of new neurons, but the mechanism of action has been unclear, until now. Yale University's Ronald S. Duman and Jennifer L. Warner-Schmidt have found evidence that these treatments work by increasing production of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in the brain (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 2007, 104, 4647). The researchers determined that VEGF promotes formation of new neurons in rats dosed with antidepressant drugs or treated with electroshock therapy. The growth factor is best known for supporting the development of new cells that form blood vessels. Duman and Warner-Schmidt observed that treatments for depression increase the number of these cells in the brain as well. VEGF's dual role therefore may explain a long-suspected link between depression and heart disease. The findings could lead to the development of new antidepressant drugs that mimic VEGF.

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