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Increased pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide in the central bed nucleus of the stria terminalis in mood disorders in men

Research group Swaab
Publication year 2023
Published in Neurobiology of Disease
Authors Zala Slabe, Gwyneth A Pechler, J.J. van Heerikhuize, Benjamin A Samuels, Marko Živin, Maja Zorović, D.F. Swaab

The mood disorders major depressive disorder (MDD) and bipolar disorder (BD) are highly prevalent worldwide. Women are more vulnerable to these psychopathologies than men. The bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST), the amygdala and the hypothalamus are the crucial interconnected structures involved in the stress response. In mood disorders, stress systems in the brain are put into a higher gear. The BNST is implicated in mood, anxiety, and depression. The stress-related neuropeptide pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide (PACAP) is highly abundant in the central BNST (cBNST). In this study, we investigated alterations in PACAP in the cBNST of patients with mood disorders. Immunohistochemical (IHC) staining of PACAP and in situ hybridization (ISH) of PACAP mRNA were performed on the cBNST of post-mortem human brain samples. Quantitative IHC revealed elevated PACAP levels in the cBNST in both mood disorders, MDD and BD, but only in men, not in women. The PACAP ISH was negative, indicating that PACAP is not produced in the cBNST. The results support the possibility that PACAP innervation of the cBNST plays a role in mood disorder pathophysiology in men.

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