Laser dissection of depression

Apr 22, 2008

Chinese investigators from Hefei and Dutch researchers in Amsterdam have collaborated using for the first time a combination of new elegant methodology in Depression research. They used postmortem human brain tissue that was donated to the Netherlands Brain Bank for research purposes and investigated a region in the basal part of the brain, the hypothalamus, that is known to be of crucial importance for the development of symptoms of depression.

This region is 6 mm3 large and is called the Paraventricular Nucleus (PVN) since it is situated along the third ventricle of the brain. This brain area is central in the regulations of our normal stress response, while a too high activity of the PVN is a pivotal characteristic of depression.

The hypothalamus consists of a large number of very small specialized cell groups that all have different functions and should thus be studied separately, hence the necessity of the application of the methodology used.

Corticotrophin-releasing factor (CRF) cells in the PVN of human hypothalamus are the central driving force of the stress response and are hyperactive in depression. The investigators sampled the PVN using new technology in psychiatry to study its molecular changes related to CRF.

Frozen hypothalami of 7 depressed patients and 7 controls of the same age, the same sex and obtained the same time after death. The frozen brain structures were serially sectioned and the PVN was dissected using a microscope with a laser beam. The micro-laser-dissected material was subsequently studied with a very sensitive and specific quantitative molecular technique for the analysis of gene expression (qPCR).

From the 16 gene products that were studied, because they were presumed to be involved in CRF activation in depression, 5 were found to show significant changes. The molecular changes found may not only explain the hyperactivity of the CRF cells but may also be potential targets for new therapeutic strategies.

Source: Molecular Psychiatry

Explore further: Unsteady on your feet? Little touches could make all the difference

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Roads negatively affect frogs and toads, study finds

3 minutes ago

The development of roads has a significant negative and pervasive effect on frog and toad populations, according to a new study conducted by a team of researchers that included undergraduate students and ...

Fifth launch for Ariane 5 this year (w/ Video)

18 minutes ago

An Ariane 5 has lifted off from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana and delivered two telecom satellites, Intelsat-30/DLA-1 and Arsat-1, into their planned orbits.

Carbon capture and storage—reality or still a dream?

43 minutes ago

To have any chance of avoiding dangerous climate change we'll have to reduce the carbon emissions from our energy sectors—currently the largest human source of greenhouse gas emissions globally. And we'll ...

Cassini caught in Hyperion's particle beam

53 minutes ago

Static electricity is known to play an important role on Earth's airless, dusty moon, but evidence of static charge building up on other objects in the solar system has been elusive until now. A new analysis ...

Recommended for you

Doctors who helped paralysed man walk seek new patients

13 minutes ago

The Polish doctors who performed the revolutionary treatment that allowed a paralysed man to walk again said Wednesday they were looking for new candidates, as their patient described how the medical procedure has changed hi ...

Cause of ageing remains elusive

1 hour ago

A report by Chinese researchers in the journal Nature a few months ago was a small sensation: they appeared to have found the cause for why organisms age. An international team of scientists, headed by the ...

Newly discovered bacterial defence mechanism in the lungs

2 hours ago

A new study from Karolinska Institutet presents a previously unknown immunological mechanism that protects us against bacterial infections in the lungs. The study is being published in the American Journal of Respiratory an ...

Neutralising antibodies for safer organ transplants

Oct 21, 2014

Serious complications can arise following kidney transplants. If dialysis is required within the first seven days, then the transplanted organ is said to have a Delayed Graft Function (DGF), and essentially ...

User comments : 0