Overactive gene receptor found in depressed women

Depressed womenContinuous research is being conducted on the cause of depression. To date, there is an understanding that genes, hormones and neurotransmitters are disrupted in those with depression.

Research from the University of Illinois has found genes that regulate neurotransmitters in high abundance in depressed women. They said the overactive gene could be responsible for higher incidences of suicide in depressed women.


Researchers examined postmortem tissues from the brains of psychiatric patients. Researchers revealed that among depressed female patients they had abnormally high levels of genes which regulate the glutamate system – this is distributed over the brain.

Glutamate is the major excitatory neurotransmitter and has been linked to schizophrenia, epilepsy, autism and Alzheimer’s disease.

Women are two to three times at higher risk to attempt suicide but men are four times more likely to die from suicide.

Previous research revealed the use of low-dose ketamine to treat depression for those where typical antidepressants fell short. These findings are what prompted the recent research.

Brain tissues from female and male patients were compared to those of individuals with no psychiatric disorder. Cause of death of many of the depressed patients was suicide.

Women with depression had higher levels of expression of glutamate receptors, which researchers believe makes them more prone to depression.

Monsheel Sodi, assistant processor of pharmacy practice at the university, said that the study suggests women with major depression might benefit from antidepressants that affect the glutamate system. This would include the drug ketamine.

“The study also suggests new glutamate receptor targets for development of treatments for depression and identifies biochemical markers that could be used to assess suicide risk,” said Sodi.


Annually, 41,000 American die of suicide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is reported as the second leading cause of death among those aged 15 to 34. 90 percent of those who take their own life suffer from a mental illness.

The findings were published in Molecular Psychiatry.


Author Bio

Emily Lunardo studied medical sociology at York University with a strong focus on the social determinants of health and mental illness. She is a registered Zumba instructor, as well as a Canfit Pro trainer, who teaches fitness classes on a weekly basis. Emily practices healthy habits in her own life as well as helps others with their own personal health goals. Emily joined Bel Marra Health as a health writer in 2013.