Research Reveals More Information On ECS Therapy’s Effects

ECT is an effective treatment for depression, but its mechanisms are still unknown.

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According to the most recent World Health Organization (WHO) statistics, almost one billion individuals worldwide suffer from some mental condition. As a result of the COVID-19 epidemic, cases of anxiety and sadness increased dramatically. Patients with treatment-resistant depression, including suicidal ideation, among other symptoms, are reported to have significant alleviation from ECT, in which specific brain regions are exposed to set quantities of electricity.

Researchers from the Department of Biological Sciences at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) in Mumbai have examined the effects of chronic electroconvulsive seizures (ECS) on neuroplasticity, the capacity to produce new neurons, and the modulation of the extracellular matrix in both young adult and middle-aged rats.

“ECT is frequently used to treat patients with depression symptoms who are unresponsive to medication therapy. The mechanisms by which ECT exerts its practical benefits are still not fully understood. We employed rat models and the chronic ECS paradigm to understand how ECT works, the researchers said in an interview with India Science Wire.

It is unknown if ECS has similar effects at different ages, given that ECT is frequently given to middle-aged and elderly patients. The scientists discovered that persistent ECS causes neuronal plasticity in the hippocampi of young adult and middle-aged rats in ways distinct from one another and overlapping.

At any stage of life might experience depression.

Due to comorbid diseases, including diabetes, hypertension, and other age-related disorders, geriatric depression (depression in older persons) pose considerable hurdles to conventional antidepressant prescription or therapy paradigms. Also, a lot of elderly people develop resistance to traditional treatment plans.

Because of developments in modern medicine, the demographics of both emerging and developed countries are shifting, with an increasing proportion of elderly and ageing people. New therapeutic approaches are required due to the rise in neurodegenerative illnesses, which brings additional problems.

In cases of treatment-resistant geriatric depression, ECT has been demonstrated to be just as effective in older patients and is frequently the treatment of choice. We set out to investigate if mechanisms linked to ECT activity on the brain function similarly in an older context in light of these findings, according to researchers.

The research team discovered that persistent ECS lessens behavioural despondency at both ages. Although the severity of the effects varied depending on the age group examined, these behavioural effects of chronic ECS were seen coupled with comparable alterations in trophic factor expression and the production of new neurons in the hippocampus.

“We also discovered that persistent ECS causes the protein-sugar connections known as perineuronal nets (PNNs), used to decorate particular neurons in the hippocampal formation, to fall off. This is interesting since removing PNNs is linked to more remarkable neuronal plasticity, enabling stable, mature neural networks to incorporate changes that could improve mood, according to the research team.

Young adult and middle-aged Sprague Dawley rats were subjected to chronic ECS for seven consecutive days in this study. Gene expression was then profiled using quantitative polymerase chain reaction analysis, and PNNs and neural stem cells were examined using immunohistochemistry and immunofluorescence techniques in conjunction with confocal microscopy.

Our results suggest that the type of chronic ECS-evoked molecular and cellular alterations in the hippocampus is strongly influenced by age. This presents the fascinating potential that chronic ECS may activate unique and overlapping systems to trigger behavioural changes resembling those caused by antidepressants in a way that varies with age, the researchers write.

The group also thinks that preclinical investigations should consider variables like age, life experience, sex, coexisting conditions, etc. Then, it will be possible to comprehend how chronic ECS affects particular neuronal circuits entirely. This is critical to understanding ECT’s operations more thoroughly.

The research team includes Ronald S. Duman (Yale University School of Medicine, USA), Vidita A. Vaidya, Minal Jaggar, Shreya Ghosh, Balaganesh Janakiraman, Ashmita Chatterjee, Megha Maheshwari, Vani Dewan, Brendan Hare, Sukrita Deb, and Dwight Figueiredo. In the International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, the work has been published. (India Science Wire)