Astroglial Kir4.1 in the lateral habenula drives neuronal bursts in depression

Astroglial Kir4.1 in the lateral habenula drives neuronal bursts in depression, Published online: 14 February 2018; doi:10.1038/nature25752

The lateral habenula (LHb) is a region of the brain that is associated with aversion and other negative emotions. Hailan Hu and colleagues present a pair of papers in this week’s issue on the role of burst firing in LHb neurons in depression in rats. First, they show that ketamine, a drug that can be used as an antidepressant, blocks LHb neuron bursting activity, and that both NMDAR and low-voltage-sensitive T-type calcium channels (T-VSCCs) are required for the drug to be effective. In the second study, the authors identify a potential mechanism for regulating this bursting behaviour that could represent a new therapeutic target. Levels of an astroglial potassium channel, Kir4.1, covary with the degree of membrane hyperpolarization and bursting activity of LHb neurons, as well as depression-related behaviours in various rodent models. The team suggest that blocking LHb neuron bursting activity could revive reward centres in the brain and elevate mood, and provide a model framework for developing rapid-acting antidepressants. http://feeds.nature.com/nature/rss/current via https://www.nature.com/articles/nature25752

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