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Targeting ventral tegmental area (VTA) dopaminergic neurons to treat depression

Targeting a subset of dopaminergic neurons could be useful for reducing depression-related behaviors. In mice, optogenetic induction of a phasic firing pattern in VTA dopaminergic neurons in mice increased susceptibility to social defeat stress and depression-related behaviors compared with induction of a tonic firing pattern. In mice and rats, optogenetic inhibition of VTA dopaminergic neurons increased depression-related behaviors compared with no inhibition. Next steps could include developing pharmacological agents to modulate the activity of VTA neurons.

SciBX 6(2); doi:10.1038/scibx.2013.49
Published online Jan. 17, 2013

Patent and licensing status for both studies unavailable

Chaudhury, D. et al. Nature; published online Dec. 12, 2012;
Contact: Ming-Hu Han, Mount Sinai School of Medicine,
New York, N.Y.

Tye, K.M. et al. Nature; published online Dec. 12, 2012;
Contact: Karl Deisseroth, Stanford University, Stanford, Calif.