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Protein responsible for postpartum depression in pregnancy found

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Protein responsible for postpartum depression in pregnancy found
Protein responsible for postpartum depression in pregnancy found. IANS
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New York, Dec 27, 2017: Researchers have found that a protein regulating a system in the brain that mediates physiological response to stress may be responsible for depression that some women experience during and after pregnancy.

Postpartum depression strikes nearly one in five new mothers, who may experience anxiety, severe fatigue, inability to bond with their children and suicidal thoughts.

Such depression has also been associated with infants’ developmental difficulties.

Although stress has been identified as a significant risk factor for postpartum depression, this complex disorder is still poorly understood.

The study, published online in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, demonstrated the involvement of the neuroendocrine system that mediates physiological response to stress, called the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which is normally suppressed during and after pregnancy.

The study “shows for the first time that dysregulation of the HPA axis and a specific protein in the brain, KCC2, can be enough to induce postpartum depression-like behaviour and deficits in maternal care,” said study co-author Jamie Maguire, Assistant Professor at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, US.

The findings in mice provide a research model for further investigation into the causes of and treatment for postpartum depression, which has largely relied on co-relational studies in humans so far.

The study investigated the specific role of KCC2 in regulating the HPA axis during and after pregnancy.

Th researchers assessed the expression of the protein in brains of virgin, pregnant and postpartum mice.

They observed suppression (down regulation) of KCC2 in virgin mice exposed to stress but not in pregnant or postpartum mice. (IANS)

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Bacteria in The Gut May Lead to Anxiety, Depression

The researchers are now working to identify specific populations of bacteria involved in these processes and the molecules that the bacteria produce

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Bacteria in The Gut May Lead to Anxiety, Depression
Bacteria in The Gut May Lead to Anxiety, Depression. Pixabay

Gut bacteria plays a key role in infusing negative feelings in the brains of obese people, causing depression and anxiety, researchers say.

The findings showed that mice on a high-fat diet showed significantly more signs of anxiety, depression and obsessive behaviour than animals on standard diets.

In mice with high-fat diets, two areas of the brain, the hypothalamus, which helps to control whole body metabolism, and the nucleus accumbens, important in mood and behaviour, becomes insulin resistant.

“Your diet isn’t always necessarily just making your blood sugar higher or lower; it’s also changing a lot of signals coming from gut microbes and these signals make it all the way to the brain,” said C. Ronald Kahn, from the Joslin Diabetes Centre in the US.

“But all of these behaviours are reversed or improved when antibiotics that will change the gut microbiome were given with the high fat diet,” Kahn added.

Gut Bacteria.
Gut Bacteria. Pixabay

In the study, published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, the team identified the effect of the microbiome by transferring gut bacteria from experimental mice to germ-free mice which did not have any bacteria of their own.

The animals which received bacteria from mice on a high-fat diet began to show increased levels of activity associated with anxiety and obsessive behaviour.

However, those who got microbes from mice on a high-fat diet plus antibiotics did not, even though they did not receive the antibiotics themselves.

Also Read: Depression, Anxiety May Lead to Teeth Loss

The researchers are now working to identify specific populations of bacteria involved in these processes and the molecules that the bacteria produce.

“If we could modify those bacteria, either by putting in more beneficial bacteria or reducing the number of harmful bacteria, that might be a way to see improved behaviour,” Kahn noted. (IANS)