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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Sex differences in glutamate receptor gene expression in major depression and suicide


In the new study, published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry researchers analyzed brain tissue from people who had suffered from depression. Both females and males were compared to subjects who had never experienced psychiatric illness. Many of the depressed patients had died by suicide.
Females with depression had the highest levels of expression of several glutamate receptor genes, perhaps making them more prone to depression. In addition, three of these genes were found to be elevated in both male and female patients who had died by suicide.
"Our data indicate that females with major depression who are at high risk of suicide may have the greatest antidepressant benefit from drugs that act on the glutamate system, such as ketamine," author said. The study also suggests new glutamate receptor targets for development of treatments for depression and identifies biochemical markers that could be used to assess suicide risk.
Recent studies found that a low dose of the drug ketamine, which alters glutamate system activity, can rapidly eliminate depression in two-thirds of patients who do not respond to conventional antidepressants. Conventional antidepressants target the monoamine systems, which secrete the neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin or norepinephrine.