Neuroscientists Have Identified Mechanism Behind Antidepressant Effect of Lactate, a Molecule Produced During Exercise; Key Features Are NADH and Neurogenesis, Which May Be Clues to Treatment Improvements

Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. Neuroscientists from Synapsy--the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research into Mental Illness--based at Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV) and Lausanne University (UNIL) in Swizerland have recently demonstrated that lactate, a molecule produced by the body during exercise, has an antidepressant effect in mice. Lactate is best known for the pivotal role it plays in the nutrition of neurons inside the brain. Yet it can also counter the inhibition of the survival and proliferation of new neurons, a loss seen in patients suffering from depression and in stressed animal. Furthermore, the research team pinpointed NADH as a vital component in the mechanism: this is a molecule with antioxidant properties that is derived from the metabolism of lactate. The findings, published online on May 14, 2021 in Molecular Psychiatry, provide a better understanding of the physiological mechanisms that underpin physical activity, which should lead to an improvement in the way depression is treated in the future. The open-access article is titled “Role of Adult Hippocampal Neurogenesis in the Antidepressant Actions of Lactate.”

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