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Adult Hippocampal Neurogenesis as Target for the Treatment of Depression

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The dentate gyrus (DG) is one of only two brain structures known to retain the ability to produce new neurons in adulthood. The functional significance of adult neurogenesis in the DG is not yet well understood, but recent evidence has implicated adult neurogenesis in the etiology and treatment of depression. Elevated stress hormone levels, which are present in some depressed patients and can precipitate the onset of depression, reduce neurogenesis in animal models. Conversely, virtually all antidepressant treatments studied to date, including drugs of various classes, electroconvulsive therapy, and behavioral treatments, increase neurogenesis in the DG. We critically review this literature linking DG neurogenesis with depression, looking to both animal and human studies. We conclude that a reduction in neurogenesis by itself is not likely to produce depression. However, at least some therapeutic effects of antidepressant treatments appear to be neurogenesis-dependent. We review the cellular pathways through which antidepressant drugs boost neurogenesis and present several hypotheses about how DG neurogenesis may be instrumental in the therapeutic effects of these drugs.

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Keywords: Emotion; Hippocampal Atrophy; Stress; long-term potentiation; subgranular zone

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1051 Riverside Drive, Unit 87, Kolb Annex Rm. 767, New York, NY 10025, USA.

Publication date: 2007-06-01

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  • CNS & Neurological Disorders - Drug Targets aims to cover all the latest and outstanding developments on the medicinal chemistry, pharmacology, molecular biology, genomics and biochemistry of contemporary molecular targets involved in neurological and central nervous system (CNS) disorders e.g. disease specific proteins, receptors, enzymes, genes. Each issue of the journal will contain a series of timely in-depth reviews written by leaders in the field covering a range of current topics on drug targets involved in neurological and CNS disorders. As the discovery, identification, characterization and validation of novel human drug targets for neurological and CNS drug discovery continues to grow; this journal will be essential reading for all pharmaceutical scientists involved in drug discovery and development.
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