Researchers have identified possible cause of PPD in a brain protein
One in five new moms experiences symptoms of perinatal mood disorders, including anxiety, extreme sadness, fatigue, suicidal thoughts, and an inability to bond with their babies.
A new study published in the Journal of Psychoneuroendocrinology suggests a protein in the brain could be responsible. The protein KCC2 is involved in a process that regulates physiological responses to stress.
The research finds the neuroendocrine system called the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis may be involved. It is normally suppressed during and after pregnancy. This is the first study of its kind that made a link between the HPA axis and the KCC2 protein in the brain and postpartum symptoms.
"Dysregulation of the protein can be enough to induce postpartum depression-like behavior and deficits in maternal care," said study co-author Jamie Maguire, Assistant Professor at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, Massachusetts.
The discovery of a biological mechanism underlying postpartum depression is a promising development for women suffering from the disease and their families. Scientists may be able to determine why some women develop PPD and not others. It could also lead the development of more effective medications.
Researchers tested the KCC2 protein in the brains of virgin, pregnant and postpartum mice. Their findings suggest a research model that could be used in future studies. Thus far, research has largely relied on co-relational studies in humans.
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