Editors' ChoiceNeuroscience

Depression and the Habenula

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Sci. Signal.  03 Sep 2013:
Vol. 6, Issue 291, pp. ec212
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2004688

The lateral habenula (LHb) appears to have a role in depression. However, the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood, and by using multiple rodent models of depression, Li et al. identified a signaling pathway and associated neuronal adaptations in which the enzyme βCaMKII was selectively up-regulated in the LHb. Manipulations that enhanced βCaMKII levels increased depression-related phenotypes, and RNA interference of CaMKIIb blunted depression. Enhanced βCaMKII levels in the habenula promoted excitatory synaptic transmission on these neurons and increased action potential firing mediated by an up-regulation of a specific subtype of glutamate receptors.

K. Li, T. Zhou, L. Liao, Z. Yang, C. Wong, F. Henn, R. Malinow, J. R. Yates III, H. Hu, βCaMKII in lateral habenula mediates core symptoms of depression. Science 341, 1016–1020 (2013). [Abstract] [Full Text]