The Neuronal Mechanisms for the Involvement of BDNF in Depression
2006 Seed Grant
Ya-Ping Tang, M.D., Ph.D.
The University of Chicago

BDNF has been implicated in both the pathogenesis of depression and the therapeutic action of many anti depression treatments. However, how BDNF is involved in these processes is currently unclear. In this proposal, by using the tTA/tetO inducible gene manipulation system, Dr. Tang and his lab have generated a specific BDNF transgenic mouse strain, in which the overexpression of BDNF is both forebrain-specific and controllable. With this mouse model, they plan to determine whether the effect of BDNFon anti depression is due to an acute effect or a chronic effect of BDNF overexpression by turning its expression on or off during the different behavioral processes. Furthermore, by determining whether there is an association between the effects of BDNF overexpression on synaptogenesis and the effects of BDNF overexpression on antidepressive behaviors, they are able to establish the role of BDNF-mediated synaptogenesis in anti-depression.

The effects of currently available medications for major depression are very limited, which makes it still a major medical or social problem in this country. It is Dr. Tang’s expectation that this study may provide important evidence to show how BDNF, or how BDNF-mediated synaptogenesis, is involved in anti depression. The determination of the role of BDNF-mediated synaptogenesis in anti-depression is of fundamental interest in finding a new therapeutic strategy for depression, which may eventually lead to successfully prevent or cure this major mental illness.

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