While traditional antidepressants may make a world of difference for some people, the fact is that they don’t work for everyone. What’s more, even when they do work, they typically take at least several weeks to do so. There may be new hope for individuals suffering from depression, however, thanks to a discovery made at The Scripps Research Institute.

Led by Prof. Kirill Martemyanov, the Scripps team found that a receptor protein known as GPR158 was elevated in people with major depressive disorder.

This prompted the scientists to conduct a study on lab mice, some of which had boosted GPR158 levels, and some of which had none. It was found that after being subjected to chronic stress, both male and female mice with elevated levels of the protein exhibited depressive-like behavior. The mice without GPR158, on the other hand, continued to behave normally.

The scientists subsequently discovered that GPR158 affects key signalling pathways involved in mood regulation, within the brain’s prefrontal cortex. That said, the exact mechanics involved in the relationship are still not entirely understood. It could, however, explain why some people are mentally resilient to stress, while it causes depression in others.

“The next step in this process is to come up with a drug that can target this receptor,” says Martemyanov.

A paper on the research was recently published in the journal eLife.

Source: The Scripps Research Institute