Dr. Shawn Hayley - 2016 to 2018
Carleton University

“The neurotrophic cytokine, erythropoietin, as a novel antidepressant"

Recent research on the causes of depression have begun to move away from the traditional notion that the disorder stems simply from reduced levels of the brain neurotransmitters, serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine. Recently accumulating data suggests that depression might have as its basis actual structural changes in the brain circuits that control emotions. Evidence points to structural changes in two key brain regions (the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex) that are important for interpreting social situations and are also critical for learning and memory, as well as for influencing emotional state. Furthermore, the drug ketamine has recently been shown to be rapidly effective in treating depressed patients who had been treatment-resistant. Its effectiveness has been suggested to occur as a result of rapid structural brain changes (increased number and branching of neuronal projections) and increased levels of brain growth factors [specifically, brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)] that support such structural alterations.