'Depressed' Mice Could Help Human Patients

COLLEGE PARK, Pa., June 30 (UPI) — A strain of mice sharing characteristics with human patients suffering drug-resistant forms of depression could offer treatment clues, researchers say.

The unique laboratory mice show behavioral, hormonal and neurochemical characteristics similar to those in human patients and could be used to develop medications for specific forms of depression, a Penn State University release said Wednesday.

“A mouse can’t tell us if it is feeling depressed, so we used a

number of different kinds of tests to gauge behavioral and hormonal changes of a type of depression that, in humans, does not respond well to some antidepressant drugs,” Penn State biology professor Bernhard Luscher said.

A genetic defect in the mice interferes with the function of a particular protein in the brain called the GABA-A receptor.

“Our research shows that the GABA-A receptor is, in fact, an important part of the brain circuitry that is not working properly in (cases of) depression,” Luscher said.

The genetically defective mice can be a useful animal model for laboratory studies into understanding human depression, he said.

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