Scientists Discover Protein That May Be Key in Depression

Mice deficient in the protein, p11, display depression-like behavior

FRIDAY, Jan. 6 (HealthDay News) -- A protein called p11 seems to play a key role in fighting depression by interacting with serotonin receptors in the brain, according to a report in the Jan. 6 issue of Science.

Per Svenningsson, Ph.D., of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, and colleagues found that p11 is linked to serotonin 1B receptor (5-HT1B) in the brain. Knockout mice deficient in p11 exhibit depression-like symptoms, and less of the protein is present in animal models of depression and in brain tissue of depressed patients. Electroconvulsive therapy and antidepressants boost levels of p11 in the brain.

"Mice deficient in this protein, called p11, display depression-like behaviors, while those with sufficient amounts behave as if they have been treated with antidepressants," study author Paul Greengard, a Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientist at Rockefeller University in New York City, said in a prepared statement.

"Taken together, the results of the present study indicate that the dynamic modulation of 5-HT1B receptor function by p11 may be involved in molecular adaptations occurring in neuronal networks that are dysfunctional in depression-like states," the authors conclude.

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