PublicationsSexually dimorphic changes of hypocretin (orexin) in depression.
Neurophysiological and behavioral processes regulated by hypocretin (orexin) are severely affected in depression. However, alterations in hypocretin have so far not been studied in the human brain. We explored the hypocretin system changes in the hypothalamus and cortex in depression from male and female subjects.
We quantified the differences between depression patients and well-matched controls, in terms of hypothalamic hypocretin-1 immunoreactivity (ir) and hypocretin receptors (Hcrtr-receptors)-mRNA in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. In addition, we determined the alterations in the hypocretin system in a frequently used model for depression, the chronic unpredictable mild stress (CUMS) rat.
i) Compared to control subjects, the amount of hypocretin-immunoreactivity (ir) was significantly increased in female but not in male depression patients; ii) hypothalamic hypocretin-ir showed a clear diurnal fluctuation, which was absent in depression; iii) male depressive patients who had committed suicide showed significantly increased ACC Hcrt-receptor-2-mRNA expression compared to male controls; and iv) female but not male CUMS rats showed a highly significant positive correlation between the mRNA levels of corticotropin-releasing hormone and prepro-hypocretin in the hypothalamus, and a significantly increased Hcrt-receptor-1-mRNA expression in the frontal cortex compared to female control rats.
The clear sex-related change found in the hypothalamic hypocretin-1-ir in depression should be taken into account in the development of hypocretin-targeted therapeutic strategies.