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Antidepressants Grow New Nerve Cells

New research finds that antidepressant treatment induces new nerve cell growth in the hippocampus, a brain area responsible for learning and memory, in adult monkeys. Scientists believe a similar process may occur in humans. If so, the finding could help explain the he effectiveness of antidepressant treatments.

In adult monkeys, an antidepressant treatment has induced new nerve cell growth in the hippocampus, a brain area responsible for learning and memory.

The results, the first from nonhuman primates, are similar to those previously seen in rodents. They suggest that creation of new nerve cells, a process known as neurogenesis, is an important part of antidepressant therapy.

Researcher Tarique Perera, MD, at Columbia University, and colleagues observed changes in the number of brain cells in the dentate gyrus region of the hippocampus. The study is published in The Journal of Neuroscience.

The growth of new nerve cells in the hippocampus has been suggested as the way antidepressants work in rodents, says Eric Nestler, MD, PhD, of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

“However, the clinical relevance of this action has remained controversial, in part, because of uncertainty as to whether similar neurogenesis occurs in humans,” he says.

“This finding further supports the potential clinical relevance of changes in neurogenesis seen in rodent models.”

Perera and the team treated a group of monkeys with electroconvulsive shock (ECS), an animal version of the highly effective clinical antidepressant electroconvulsive therapy. They saw an increase in new nerve cells in the hippocampus. Over four weeks, a majority of these cells became mature neurons.

These brain changes were not a response to tissue damage, Perera says, because no evidence of increased cell death was found in the ECS treated animals. In fact, the researchers found that the ECS treatments increased production of a protein (BCL2) that protects neurons from damage.

“These findings support the hypothesis that induction of neurogenesis is a necessary component in the mechanism of action of antidepressant treatments,” Perera says.

Source: Society for Neuroscience

Antidepressants Grow New Nerve Cells

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Antidepressants Grow New Nerve Cells. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 22, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2007/05/10/antidepressants-grow-new-nerve-cells/815.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
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