Breaking News
October 20, 2018 - Newly discovered compound shows potential for treating Parkinson’s disease
October 20, 2018 - High rate of non-adherence to hormonal therapy found among premenopausal early breast cancer patients
October 20, 2018 - Immunotherapy medicine found to be effective in treating uveitis
October 20, 2018 - The Pistoia Alliance Calls for Greater Collaboration to Realise Benefits of Innovation and Announces Winners of the 2018 President’s Startup Challenge
October 20, 2018 - Female internists consistently earn less than men
October 20, 2018 - Stanford team looks at dangers of teens’ vaping habits
October 20, 2018 - New approach to understanding cancers will accelerate development of better treatments
October 20, 2018 - LJI and UC San Diego awarded $ 4.5 million as part of NCI’s Cancer Moonshot initiative
October 20, 2018 - School-based HPV vaccination did not increase risky sexual behaviors among adolescent girls
October 20, 2018 - Eye discovery to pave way for more successful corneal transplants
October 20, 2018 - New analysis examines the importance of location in the opioid crisis
October 20, 2018 - Green filters increase reading speed for children with dyslexia
October 19, 2018 - Bariatric Sx Cuts Macrovascular Complications in Obesity, T2DM
October 19, 2018 - Better assessments for early age-related macular degeneration
October 19, 2018 - Visible and valued: Stanford Medicine’s first-ever LGBTQ+ Forum | News Center
October 19, 2018 - Understanding of metal-free enzymes used by bacteria could lead to new effective antibiotics
October 19, 2018 - Beckman Coulter Life Sciences announces new research-focused website
October 19, 2018 - Study finds link between refined soluble fibers, gut microbiota and liver cancer
October 19, 2018 - Social media reduces risk of depression among seniors with pain
October 19, 2018 - Newly developed synthetic DNA molecule may one day be used as ‘vaccine’ for prostate cancer
October 19, 2018 - Preoperative weight loss may not provide health benefits after surgery
October 19, 2018 - U.S. Birth Rates Continue to Drop as Age of New Moms Rises
October 19, 2018 - New technology can keep an eye on babies’ movements in the womb
October 19, 2018 - Juul e-cigarettes pose addiction risk for young users | News Center
October 19, 2018 - Gene sequencing reveals crucial molecular aspects of Trypanosoma brucei
October 19, 2018 - New DNA vaccine strategy protects mice against lethal challenge by multiple H3N2 viruses
October 19, 2018 - Study shows close link between cytokine interleukin-1ß and obesity-promoted colon cancer
October 19, 2018 - Muscle mass plays a critical role in health, shows research
October 19, 2018 - Study finds undiagnosed prediabetes in many infertile men
October 19, 2018 - The Current issue of “The view from here” is concerned with Nanotherapeutic strategies
October 19, 2018 - Delay in replacing the Pap smear with HPV screening is costing lives
October 19, 2018 - Physicians battle pediatric diseases of ear, nose, throat in Zimbabwe | News Center
October 19, 2018 - Researchers investigate why some cancers affect only young women
October 19, 2018 - Drugmakers funnel millions to lawmakers; a few dozen get $100,000-plus
October 19, 2018 - Unselfish people tend to have more children and receive higher salaries
October 19, 2018 - New findings reveal potential cellular players in tumor microenvironment
October 19, 2018 - Human brain cell transplant offers insights into neurological conditions
October 19, 2018 - Parental education associated with increased family health care spending
October 19, 2018 - New statistical method estimates long- and short-term risk of recurrence of breast cancer in US women
October 19, 2018 - Father’s exposure to nicotine may cause cognitive deficits in descendants
October 19, 2018 - Could we prevent Alzheimer’s disease by treating herpes?
October 19, 2018 - Nurse-led care can be more successful in managing gout
October 19, 2018 - Trump administration, pharma exchange verbal volleys on drug-price transparency
October 19, 2018 - Duke researchers find way to detect blood doping in athletes
October 19, 2018 - Many primary care doctors are still prescribing sedative drugs for older adults
October 19, 2018 - Finger length can predict sexuality in women say researchers
October 19, 2018 - Study finds differences in side-effects experienced by male and female OG cancer patients
October 19, 2018 - Dysfunction of single gene leads to miscarriages
October 19, 2018 - Few Seniors Who Self-Harm Referred for Mental Health Care
October 19, 2018 - Don’t sweat the sweet stuff
October 19, 2018 - URMC researchers discover new approach to deliver therapeutics to the brain
October 19, 2018 - Speech Pathology Australia raises awareness about Developmental Language Disorder
October 19, 2018 - Middlemen suppliers can increase drug prices and hospital bills, say Johns Hopkins researchers
October 19, 2018 - Survey finds high prevalence of HTLV-1 infection among teens and adults in Gabon
October 19, 2018 - Bliss funds research to find whether parental touch can help alleviate pain in premature infants
October 19, 2018 - Human neurons employ highly compartmentalized signaling, study shows
October 19, 2018 - Ultromics expands multiple clinical trials for coronary heart disease to the U.S.
October 19, 2018 - $11 million NIH grant for Clemson University helps launch new center for musculoskeletal research
October 19, 2018 - A new approach identified to control Zika virus, dengue fever
October 19, 2018 - Head Blows Without Concussion May Not Damage Brain, Study Claims
October 19, 2018 - US opioid use not declined, despite focus on abuse and awareness of risk
October 19, 2018 - Next-generation RNA sequencing technology sheds new light on human mitochondrial diseases
October 19, 2018 - UT Southwestern biochemist receives 2019 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences for innate immunity discovery
October 19, 2018 - The immune system also plays a key role in day-to-day function of healthy organs
October 19, 2018 - New tool may reveal how the brain structure impacts brain activity, human behavior
October 19, 2018 - Trump Administration announces ‘Winning on Reducing Food Waste’ initiative
October 19, 2018 - For-profit nursing home residents more likely to experience health issues caused by substandard care
October 19, 2018 - Incidence of stroke has risen steadily among marijuana users, show studies
October 19, 2018 - Conceptual framework proposed to examine role of exercise in multiple sclerosis
October 19, 2018 - Near infrared spectroscopy technique for accurate evaluation of chondral injuries
October 19, 2018 - Scientists receive $5.1 million grant to develop stem cell-based therapy for blinding retinal conditions
October 19, 2018 - Shorter physician encounters associated with antibiotic prescribing
October 19, 2018 - In the Spotlight: Enjoying research and exploring opportunities
October 19, 2018 - Physical activity lowers cardiovascular mortality risk in frail older adults
October 19, 2018 - New imaging tool helps visualize how sound-induced vibrations travel through the ear
October 19, 2018 - Key insights into the application, production of bioactive materials
October 19, 2018 - New urea sorbent could speed up the development of wearable artificial kidney
October 19, 2018 - Intensive care patients’ muscles less able to use fats for energy
October 19, 2018 - FDA Advisory Committee Recommends Approval of Dsuvia for the Treatment of Moderate-to-Severe Acute Pain
October 19, 2018 - 48,XXXY syndrome – Genetics Home Reference
“Mood mirror” in blood: Might its absence bring on the blues?

“Mood mirror” in blood: Might its absence bring on the blues?

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print

Stanford psychiatric researcher Natalie Rasgon, MD, PhD, and her collaborators in a multicenter study have identified a substance, acetyl-L-choline, whose levels in the blood of people suffering from depression are correspondingly depressed. Is the substance a mere mood mirror, or might it  be a useful tool for beating the blahs?

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that people with depression have low blood levels of acetyl-L-carnitine, which is naturally produced in the body and plays a crucial role in the metabolism of fats and energy production in each of our cells.

Although its name is admittedly a mouthful, the term “acetyl-L-carnitine” may ring strangely familiar to your ears — in fact, maybe you’re already gobbling it on a daily basis. It’s a popular nutritional supplement, widely available in drugstores, supermarkets and health food catalogs.

Animal studies point to a special role for acetyl-L-carnitine in the brain, where it seems to work at least in part by preventing the excessive firing of excitatory nerve cells in brain regions called the hippocampus and frontal cortex.

In the new study, the scientists drew blood from people with histories of major depression who’d been admitted to one of two New York City medical centers during bouts of acute depression. The researchers also got blood samples from otherwise similar people with no history of depression. And, bingo: There was a substantial difference between the two groups’ average blood concentrations of acetyl-L-carnitine.

On further analysis, Rasgon and her peers also found that, on average, the more severe a patient’s depression was, or the earlier in life it had begun, or the more resistant to existing drug therapies it had proved, the lower the acetyl-L-carnitine level in the patient’s blood was.

While these findings are certainly provocative, they don’t by any means constitute proof that wolfing down a half-dozen acetyl-L-carnitine tablets is a cure for the blues. (It might also leave a fishy taste in your mouth.) Bear in mind that the investigators didn’t test whether supplementing with acetyl-L-carnitine could actually improve patients’ symptoms; they just took the equivalent of a snapshot.

Rasgon herself cautions against rushing to the store to pick up a bottle of acetyl-L-carnitine and self-medicating for depression. As I wrote in my news release about the study:

 ‘We have many previous examples of how nutritional supplements widely available over the counter and unregulated by the Food and Drug Administration — for example, omega-3 fatty acids or various herbal substances — are touted as panaceas for you-name-it, and then don’t pan out,’ she said.

But this time, the findings in people are backed up by solid animal research, and there’s a coherent theoretical understanding of how an acetyl-L-carnitine deficiency could impair brain function. The key, Rasgon says, is for someone to pony up for the costly, large-scale, controlled clinical trials that could provide a definitive idea of what dose of acetyl-L-carnitine, how often, for how long is enough to clear up depression. If it does that.

Photo by Alina Miroshnichenko

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles