Individuals with depression have lower concentrations of taurine in the hippocampus

Individuals with depression have lower concentrations of taurine in the hippocampus

A neuroimaging study conducted in South Korea showed that women with major depressive disorder had lower concentrations of taurine in the hippocampus region of the brain compared to healthy individuals. Taurine is an amino acid that plays a crucial role in the development of neurons and the formation of connections between neurons (synaptic connections). The study was published in Biological psychiatry.

Major depressive disorder, commonly known as depression, is a mental health condition characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and decreased interest or pleasure in activities. Those affected by depression often experience a variety of symptoms that affect multiple aspects of their daily lives, including sleep patterns, appetite, energy levels, and concentration abilities.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 264 million people worldwide suffer from major depressive disorder. As a result, approximately 800,000 people commit suicide every year. Studies conducted in the United States have indicated that women are twice as likely to be infected with it than men.

In recent decades, neuroimaging studies have sought to identify signs of major depressive disorder. These studies found that in individuals with this disorder, limbic areas of the brain are typically more active, while frontal areas show less activity during emotional and cognitive tasks. In addition, differences in gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) levels have been observed in the brains of depressed individuals.

A team of researchers from South Korea hypothesized that taurine concentrations in the hippocampus region of the brain may also be linked to depression. Previous studies have indicated that taurine has an antidepressant effect on animals. Taurine injections have been shown to reverse depression-like behaviors in mice. It is possible that concentrations of this amino acid are also different in humans with and without depression. These researchers organized a neuroimaging study.

“While conducting several studies using fMRI, I began to think about its contribution to mental illness. Then I read an article about the seriousness of depression. “I realized that most patients do not “They seek appropriate medical help early, resulting in serious consequences later.”

“Given the social atmosphere in which people are reluctant to seek psychological treatment, especially in South Korea, this is an understandable phenomenon, and in order to solve this problem, I thought it would be great if early depression could be diagnosed through a test such as a medical screening test before visiting a medical clinic.” Psychological So, I began searching for objective criteria for early diagnosis of depression using MRI.

The study included young women between the ages of 18 and 29 from South Korea. Of these, 41 were diagnosed with major depressive disorder, while 43 were healthy. Participants were assessed and diagnosed using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-5 by a licensed clinical psychologist. In addition, they completed the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale.

Participants underwent MRI using a 7T whole-body MRI scanner. During this procedure, the researchers measured taurine concentrations in three different brain regions: the hippocampus, anterior cingulate cortex, and occipital cortex. They expected differences in taurine levels in the hippocampus, while the other two regions served as comparison standards.

The results confirmed that taurine concentrations were indeed lower in the hippocampus of participants with major depressive disorder compared to those in the healthy group. However, there were no significant differences in taurine levels in the other two brain regions between the two groups.

Brain areas where spectra were measured (yellow box) (B) 1H MR spectrum in the hippocampus: hippocampal taurine signal is shown at 3.4 ppm (arrow). Black line: actual measured spectrum. Red line: LCModel fitting spectrum.

“In summary, we found that hippocampal taurine concentrations were lower in young women with MDD (major depressive disorder) than in a healthy control group using non-invasive in vivo MRI measurement,” the study authors concluded. Low taurine concentration in the hippocampus may provide a new feature of major depressive disorder.

“I don’t think the general public will immediately benefit from my research findings,” Cheung told PsyPost. But he added, “If in the future an objective method for diagnosing depression is created, including research, it will be possible to diagnose depression with a simple test without the burden of psychiatric visits.”

Study highlights a new potential indicator of major depressive disorder. However, study participants were exclusively young women from two regions in South Korea. Studies conducted in other age groups, larger samples, men and individuals from other cultures may not yield the same results.

“Studies will be conducted in men and the elderly,” Cheung said. “In addition, an objective diagnosis method for depression should be established through other metabolites and research methods.”

The paper, titled “Association between hippocampal taurine level and major depressive disorder in young women: a 7 Tesla proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy study,” was authored by Young Kyu Song, Ji Hyun Cho, Hyung Joon Kim, Young Ji Ohm, and E. – Nae Cheung, Sunyoung Choi, Jeong Hyun Park, Songo Tak, Bum Woo Park, Jin Hoon Son, Jeong Goo Cho, and Chejun Cheung.

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