Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Periodic Report Summary 1 - R'BIRTH (Brain Imaging Return to Health)

Brain Imaging Return to Health

Periodic reporting I

Brain Imaging Return to Health

Extended lifespan is a new and permanent feature of human life globally. Ageing, is accompanied by cognitive decline and greater risk of depression and anxiety. This consortium gathers experts on molecular mechanisms of age-associated pathologies including depressive disorders and anxiety. Specifically, they focus on identification of stress-regulated molecules provoking neuronal death and hindering neurogenesis, and monitoring the consequences of these processes in human brain. The groups combine biological and medical imaging techniques with behavioural studies and proteomics to define molecular mechanisms of ageing and neurogenesis. Using biotechnology, they will isolate neurogenic cells from aged brain. Four leading imaging infrastructures from across Europe participate to the research and training goals of the research program. Confocal and high-content imaging is used to define pathways involved in anxiety and depression and associated with ageing, proteomics to visualize effectors of pathological behaviour, transgenic mice to study neurogenesis changes and associated behaviour, MRI/MRS to identify and localize new depression-related signatures in patient populations. This multi-faceted approach aims to (i) identify druggable targets to interfere with pathways contributing to depression and anxiety, (ii) produce novel tools to image depression-associated events in brain, facilitating earlier diagnosis and intervention, (ii) improve our understanding of MRI/MRS readouts from patients and how to translate these readouts to diagnosis.

Since the project onset, researchers have identified new mechanistic information on how structural changes in the brain are controlled at the molecular level. This information is valuable as this physical change, i.e. increased neurogenesis, is known to reduce depressive and anxiety-type behaviours in mice, and is believed to influence these behavioural traits in humans. Increased understanding at the mechanistic level can promote new developments for treatment of depressive and/or anxiety disorders. Rigorous testing of these early findings is first warranted. In addition, animal models that enable us to test potential anti-depressant drugs have been established in the labs and small molecule testing is ongoing, based on novel findings from within the consortium.

In humans, our consortium has advanced sub regional imaging of the anterior cingulate cortex leading to the definition of a molecular fingerprint of the cingulate in control and depressed individuals (1). This expands our view of how dysregulation of cingulate sub-regions may contribute to the pathophysiology of depression. In addition, the clinical work has shown that the T allele in the rs1360780 SNP of the FKBP5 gene interact linearly with childhood maltreatment, potentially leading to altered DTI measures and function in areas involved in emotional processing and depression (2).

Finally, the consortium’s scientists have contributed to book chapters in a collection entitled Systems Neuroscience in Depression that will be published by Elsevier in the near future. This book is edited by consortium partner Thomas Frodl.

1) Tozzi L, Carballedo A, Wetterling F, McCarthy H, O'Keane V, Gill M, Morris D, Fahey C, Meaney J, Frodl T. Single-Nucleotide Polymorphism of the FKBP5 Gene and Childhood Maltreatment as Predictors of Structural Changes in Brain Areas Involved in Emotional Processing in Depression. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2015 Jun 16. doi: 10.1038/npp.2015.170.
2) Lord A, Horn D, Breakspear M, Walter M. Changes in community structure of resting state functional connectivity in unipolar depression. PLoS One. 2012;7(8):e41282.


Siv Holmgren, (Research coordinator)
Tel.: +358 2 2153230


Life Sciences
Record Number: 189578 / Last updated on: 2016-10-12
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