Although obese people have been known to develop depression, the underlying mechanisms were still unknown. Recent research based on mice may shed light on this. Researchers from Glasgow University and Gladstone Institutes have found that a high saturated fat diet is likely to cause depression.
The study is led by George Baillie. This study is crucial to understand depression in obese people. The reason is that depression mechanism is different in obese people compared to other people. Published in Translational Psychiatry has explained that obese people did not derive much benefits from regular antidepressants. However, they also don’t experience weight gain, like most others. They displayed lesser weight gain, little improvement in cognitive processing capabilities and neuroendocrinology and low response to depression-related treatment.
Mice were fed diets with 60% unsaturated and saturated fats during the experiment. While fatty acids like omega-3 are required for full functioning of the brain, not all are healthy in excess.
The relation between fat deposits in the brain of mice under observation and the effects on mechanisms traditionally linked to depression and mental health issues were studied. These mice had a palmitic acid influx into their hypothalamus, a regulator of hormones in the bloodstream composition. Palmitic acid, found in a wide range of ingredients and foods like margarine, butter, cheese and even meat, is a common fatty acid. This compound can explain the relation between cardiovascular disease risk increase and obesity. cAMP/PKA, a signal-based pathway related to depression, is altered when palmitic acid levels are high.
Baillie stated that this study would explain the obesity-depression link and allow better treatments for patients with this condition. The study team holds that the results gathered from the mice study also holds true for humans.
The researchers also attempted to prevent mice from developing depression-related behaviors by decreasing enzyme levels of phosphodiesterase, used to break down cAMP compounds in the body.
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