Blocking a direct physical interaction between two neurotransmitter receptors may be a new target against depression, suggests an article published online this week in Nature Medicine.
The neurotransmitter dopamine is well known to be affected in people with depression. Fang Liu and her colleagues report that the direct interaction between two different types of dopamine receptors — D1 and D2 — is markedly increased in the brain of people who had major depression. Working in rats, they found that administration of a peptide that disrupts the D1-D2 receptor complex substantially reduced behaviours commonly associated with a depressed state.
As blocking the formation of the receptor complex does not necessarily affect the function of the D1 or D2 receptor in transmitting the dopamine signal, therapeutically targeting this protein-protein interaction may be advantageous over drugs that interfere with dopamine-receptor function and often have undesirable side effects.