People suffering from depression have an originality in the cellular composition of their brain, according to a study recently published in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry, by the team of Liam O’Leary and Naguib Mechawar. One of the causes of depression? A lack of astrocytes.
Astrocytes, support for the functioning of neurons
Depressed adults have fewer astrocytes, brain cells, in their brains than people without depressive disorders, according to the study.
This study was carried out on post-mortem samples in two groups: the first group, composed of men who died suddenly and having no history of depression, the second group made up of men who died by suicide and were depressed.
Liam O’Leary, neuroscientist, explains how the experiment unfolded: “Using a microscope, we counted the number of astrocytes in cross sections of the brain. “. “We have found a reduced number of astrocytes in many areas of the brain in depressed adults,” continues psychiatrist Naguib Mechawar. However, these cells “support the optimal functioning of neurons in the brain”. The low amount of astrocytes is therefore the cause of depressive episodes in some men.
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A treatment to consider
Currently, no treatment can increase the number of astrocytes. But with the result of this study, a new avenue opens: “Finding ways to strengthen these natural brain functions can improve symptoms in depressed people,” explains Naguib Mechawar.
What is encouraging about this study is that even if the quantity differs between the two groups, the structure of the astrocytes would be identical. It only remains to continue this study with a female audience, because “it is known that the neurobiology of depression differs quite significantly between men and women”, underlines Naguib Mechawar.
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