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Fundamental research

28 - 12 - 2017

Better understanding postpartum depression

A new mouse model provides a better understanding of the neurological and hormonal mechanisms of postpartum depression.

 

Postpartum depression affects one in five mothers. It is accompanied by anxiety, heavy fatigue, difficulty in bonding with the child, and suicidal thoughts. The cause of this depression is still poorly understood due to a lack of an animal model.

 

Researchers have created a new mouse model of this condition to try to understand it.

 

In peri-partum the reaction of the mother's body to stress is diminished.

 

The KCC2 protein acts on CRH neurons and decreases the hormonal response to stress in the hypothalamic-pituitary axis. This protein is also linked to various psychiatric disorders related to stress and anxiety as well as epilepsy, chronic pain and autism.

 

 

By modulating the production of KCC2 in mice using local transgenesis, the researchers found that peripartum stress resistance was linked to the presence of this protein in CRH neurons.

 

KCC2 could thus become a therapeutic target for women suffering from anxiety and postpartum depression.

 

This discovery is a step in the knowledge of the neurological and hormonal mechanisms involved in postpartum depression.