Natural human hormone as the next antidepressant?

December 11, 2007

Philadelphia, PA, December 11, 2007 - Novel treatment strategies for major depression with broader treatment success or a more rapid onset of action would have immense impact on public health, a new study published in the December 1st issue of Biological Psychiatry explains. This new study reports findings that support the evaluation of a potential new antidepressant agent.

According to the lead author on this study, Kamilla Miskowiak, MSc: "Although depression is often related to problems in the chemistry of the brain, recent evidence also suggests that there may be structural problems as well with nerve cells not being regenerated as fast as normal or suffering from toxic effects of stress and stress hormones." This led the researchers to evaluate the effects of erythropoietin (Epo), a hormone naturally produced by the kidneys that stimulates the formation of red blood cells and is known as a treatment for anemia. The authors explain that new evidence shows that Epo also "has neuroprotective and neurotrophic effects in animal models and affects cognitive and associated neural responses in humans," suggesting that it may be a candidate in the treatment of depression.

In this study, Miskowiak and colleagues evaluated the effects of Epo on the neural and cognitive processing of emotional information in healthy volunteers using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). They found that Epo regulated the emotional responses of those volunteers that received it, similar to the effects of current antidepressants. Ms. Miskowiak explains that "this finding provides support to the idea that Epo affects neural function and may be a candidate agent for future treatment strategies for depression." John H. Krystal, M.D., Editor of Biological Psychiatry and affiliated with both Yale University School of Medicine and the VA Connecticut Healthcare System, confirms its potential: "Epo appears to have neurotrophic effects in the brain in animals. The current data suggest that Epo may modulate human brain activity associated with the processing of emotion. Together, there may now be sufficient evidence to justify evaluating the antidepressant effects of Epo and related compounds in humans."
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Notes to Editors:

The article is "Erythropoietin Reduces Neural and Cognitive Processing of Fear in Human Models of Antidepressant Drug Action" by Kamilla Miskowiak, Ursula O'Sullivan and Catherine J. Harmer. Drs. Miskowiak, O'Sullivan, and Harmer are affiliated with the Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, Warneford Hospital, Oxford, United Kingdom. Drs. Miskowiak and Harmer are also with the Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, in Oxford, United Kingdom. The article appears in Biological Psychiatry, Volume 62, Issue 11 (December 1, 2007), published by Elsevier.

Full text of the article mentioned above is available upon request. Contact Jayne M. Dawkins at (215) 239-3674 or ja.dawkins@elsevier.com to obtain a copy or to schedule an interview.

About Biological Psychiatry

This international rapid-publication journal is the official journal of the Society of Biological Psychiatry. It covers a broad range of topics in psychiatric neuroscience and therapeutics. Both basic and clinical contributions are encouraged from all disciplines and research areas relevant to the pathophysiology and treatment of major neuropsychiatric disorders. Full-length and Brief Reports of novel results, Commentaries, Case Studies of unusual significance, and Correspondence and Comments judged to be of high impact to the field are published, particularly those addressing genetic and environmental risk factors, neural circuitry and neurochemistry, and important new therapeutic approaches. Concise Reviews and Editorials that focus on topics of current research and interest are also published rapidly.

Biological Psychiatry (www.sobp.org/journal) is ranked 4th out of the 95 Psychiatry titles and 16th out of 199 Neurosciences titles on the 2006 ISI Journal Citations Reports® published by Thomson Scientific.

About Elsevier

Elsevier is a world-leading publisher of scientific, technical and medical information products and services. Working in partnership with the global science and health communities, Elsevier's 7,000 employees in over 70 offices worldwide publish more than 2,000 journals and 1,900 new books per year, in addition to offering a suite of innovative electronic products, such as ScienceDirect (http://www.sciencedirect.com/), MD Consult (http://www.mdconsult.com/), Scopus (http://www.info.scopus.com/), bibliographic databases, and online reference works.

Elsevier (http://www.elsevier.com/) is a global business headquartered in Amsterdam, The Netherlands and has offices worldwide. Elsevier is part of Reed Elsevier Group plc (http://www.reedelsevier.com/), a world-leading publisher and information provider. Operating in the science and medical, legal, education and business-to-business sectors, Reed Elsevier provides high-quality and flexible information solutions to users, with increasing emphasis on the Internet as a means of delivery. Reed Elsevier's ticker symbols are REN (Euronext Amsterdam), REL (London Stock Exchange), RUK and ENL (New York Stock Exchange).

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