The immune system may play an important role in the development of postpartum depression after a stressful pregnancy. Areas of…
The immune system may play an important role in the development of postpartum depression after a stressful pregnancy.
Areas of the brain responsible for mood regulation showed signs of inflammation in the study, which used an animal model of postpartum depression to investigate the possible connection between the immune system, the brain, and the disorder. The study by researchers at The Ohio State University was presented November 6 in San Diego at the annual Society for Neuroscience Meeting.
“Postpartum depression is understudied and, as a result, remains poorly understood,” said lead author Benedetta Leuner, an associate professor of psychology at Ohio State.
“Gaining a better understanding of the factors that contribute to this serious and prevalent disorder will be key to finding ways to better help women who are struggling.”
Postpartum depression is common after Childbirth-about 1
5% of all new mothers will experience the disorder, which has a variety of symptoms, including prolonged depression, difficulty bonding with the baby, overwhelming fatigue, and hopelessness.
“At least a half million women in the US Each year suffer from postpartum depression, and that is probably a low estimate. It’s surprising how little we know about how it arises, “Leuner said.
Previous research has focused primarily on potential hormonal explanations for postpartum depression, although some earlier work has been done on the immune system. In these studies, scientists have looked at signs of inflammation in the blood and found mixed results.
For the experiment, this study looked at the medial prefrontal cortex, a mood-related brain region previously implicated in postpartum depression. rats were stressed during pregnancy to mimic a well-known risk factor for postpartum depression in human mothers. Similar to behaviors seen in women with postpartum depression, the stressed animals exhibited reduced attentiveness to their pups and depression and anxiety-like behavior during various tasks.
And, in contrast to unstressed comparison animals, the stressed rats had higher levels of inflammatory markers In their brain tissue, Leuner said. Furthermore, the researchers found evidence that the stress could lead to changes in how certain immune cells in the brain-called microglia function.
Study coauthor Kathryn Lenz, an assistant professor of psychology at Ohio State, said she has become increasingly interested in the role of the immune system and its subsequent effects on the brain in mood disorders, including postpartum depression.
“It was particularly interesting that we found no evidence of increased inflammation in the blood, men vi fandt det i dette område af hjernen som er viktig for mood regulation. We are really excited because this suggests that inflammation in the brain may be a potential contributor to postpartum depression, “Lenz said.
” Eventually, this might provide a better target for treatment, whether through medication or other techniques such as meditation, diet, and stress reduction, “she said.
” Postpartum depression is debilitating and can negatively impact the whole family. We are hopeful that this and future research will improve the lives of women and those around them, “Leuner said
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