“This research will form the basis to understand why some people suffer more with depressive moods,” Magnus Ingelman-Sundberg, head of research at the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology at Stockholm’s Karolinska, told The Local.
“The next step would be to find out if there is a similar change in humans.”
The team at Karolinska Institutet investigated the effects of the CYP2C19 enzyme on mice by implanting it in the developing foetus. An absence of the enzyme has previously been shown to be associated with lower levels of depressive symptoms in humans.
Once they reached adulthodd, the mice had a severely underdeveloped, hypersensitive hippocampus, an area of the brain that is involved in learning and memory forming. A dysfunctional hippocampus in humans has previously shown to be highly sensitive to stress-related conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorders.
It is hoped this new research will lead to developing new anti-anxiety drugs.
“It would improve our understanding of how changes in the developing fetal brain can increase the risk of depression and anxiety disorders later in life,” Anna Persson, one of the study’s key researchers, told online healthcare website Health Canal.