Image via Wikipedia The Wall Street Journal just ran a piece on the growing use of electro-convulsive (“shock”) therapy in elderly patients suffering from severe depression. While the clinical evidence may show this approach is effective – albeit scary – it is notable that another study published on the same day by Hunsberger et al., entitled, “Antidepressant actions of the exercise-regulated gene VGF ” (DOI). This paper reveals that a number of genes possessing antidepressant-like properties are induced by exercise. Yes, good old fashioned walkin’ and sweatin’. A few clinical trials have shown that, in older people especially, exercise is just as effective as anti-depressant medications. Furthermore, exercise seems to increase neurogenesis in the hippocampus in a manner that is parallel to anti-depressants. One of the genes induced by exercise, a growth factor named VGF, produces anti-depressant responses when administered into the mouse brain, while +/- hemizygous VGF animals show increased physiological and behavioral signs of stress. The authors point to the role of structural synaptic changes in long-term relief of depression, rather than short term increases in serotonin, but -ironically – note that VGF would be a great candidate for drug development. Hmmm, seems like I’ll skip the meds and the electrodes, and get to sweatin’ with a Richard Simmons video.*
*For the record, I do not currently own a Richard Simmons video.
Related articles by Zemanta