Mood disorders are a huge economic burden on the U.S. economy--depression costs an estimated $83 billion in lost productivity and increased medical expenses.
But a class of drugs known as glutamatergic agents may one day offer relief to the 9.1% of Americans who suffer from depression per year. These agents act on the glutamate system of the brain, one of the two major amino acid systems that aids information processing in networks of neurons.
Dr. Gerard Sanacora, a professor of psychiatry and the director of the Yale Depression Research Program at the Yale School of Medicine, presented new research on the promise of glutamatergic agents in treating mood and anxiety disorders at the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology Congress in Barcelona.
"There is a rapidly expanding literature suggesting the glutamatergic neurotransmitter system is altered in the brains of individuals suffering with mood disorders," Sanacora said in a statement.
Sanacora and his team have used animal models to help understand how stress and other environmental factors can disrupt glutamatergic function and cause molecular, cellular and behavioral changes in the brain that are typical of depression.
In rodent models, the team found that stress has a major impact on the function of glutamate neurotransmission, which seems to be related to behavioral changes. The research could help scientists develop new drugs for regulating mood disorders, which have historically been difficult to treat.
The research has been accepted for publication in Molecular Psychiatry.
- here's the press release