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Neurogenesis in the adult brain: The association with stress and depression
Date:8/31/2008

f the leading causes of disability, second only to cardiovascular disease, by the year 2015.

Brain changes induced by stress and depression

The areas of the brain that are most affected by the changes caused by depression are the prefrontal cortex, amygdala and hippocampus, which are central to emotion, memory and learning. Structural and functional changes as a consequence of stress and/or major depression are a reduction in volume, neuronal size and density, associated with changes in cerebral blood flow and glucose metabolism (see figure 1). In addition, there is a reduced density of glial support cells that are instrumental in the communication between nerve cells, which is particularly relevant to the reduced volume of the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus. The shrinkage might explain some of the emotional changes observed in people with depression.

Neurogenesis in the adult brain

The stress hypothesis of affective disorders has stimulated the development of putative animal models of depression. Animal models today are generally regarded as invaluable in preclinical research on human psychopathology, and are thus of prime interest in studying the pathophysiology of depression and specific responses to antidepressant drug treatments. The discovery that the adult nervous system is capable of replacing its cells has attracted considerable interest in the scientific community. Up to now, neural networks in adults have been thought to be fixed and immutable, without the potential to regenerate: This assumption was prominently pronounced by the famous Spanish neuroscientist Santiago Ramon y Cajal, who postulated that everything may die, nothing may regenerate" (Cajal, 1928). Current research has overcome this view and has shown that the formation of new nerve cells (=neurogenesis) also takes place in the adult brain. Neurogenesis can be modified by positive modulators such as learning, physical exercise, and hormonal inf
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Contact: Sonja Mak
s.mak@update.europe.at
43-140-557-340
European College of Neuropsychopharmacology
Source:Eurekalert

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