NARSAD Grantee Reports Chronic Stress Blocks a Gene that Guards the Brain Against Depression

Ronald S. Duman, Ph.D., Professor Psychiatry and Professor of Neurobiology and of Pharmacology Yale School of Medicine
Ronald S. Duman, Ph.D.

Ronald S. Duman, Ph.D., a professor of psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine, is the principal author of a new study that has found that the gene neuritin, which is responsible for keeping healthy neuron connections in the brain, produces antidepressant actions and blocks the neuronal and behavioral deficits that can be caused by chronic stress. Researchers believe that the neuritin gene (or a lack of its adequate expression) is part of a series of triggers that may lead to depression. Dr. Duman is a three-time NARSAD Grantee receiving a NARSAD Distinguished Investigator Grant in 2005, a NARSAD Independent Investigator Grant in 1997 and a NARSAD Young Investigator Grant in 1989.

In this new study, Dr. Duman’s team describes the role of neuritin in models of stress and depression and furthers the theory that neurogenesis (the creation of new neurons in the brain) may have more to do with depression than serotonin alone. Animals dosed with gene therapy to boost neuritin’s availability in the brain led to new neuron growth while those animals whose neuritin was suppresses showed more despairing behaviors when under stress. The team’s findings were published online, ahead of print, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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