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Mitochondria: A Connecting Link in the Major Depressive Disorder Jigsaw

[ Vol. 17 , Issue. 6 ]


Shilpa Sharma and Ravi S. Akundi*   Pages 550 - 562 ( 13 )


Background: Depression is a widespread phenomenon with varying degrees of pathology in different patients. Various hypotheses have been proposed for the cause and continuance of depression. Some of these include, but not limited to, the monoamine hypothesis, the neuroendocrine hypothesis, and the more recent epigenetic and inflammatory hypotheses.

Objective: In this article, we review all the above hypotheses with a focus on the role of mitochondria as the connecting link. Oxidative stress, respiratory activity, mitochondrial dynamics and metabolism are some of the mitochondria-dependent factors which are affected during depression. We also propose exogenous ATP as a contributing factor to depression.

Result: Literature review shows that pro-inflammatory markers are elevated in depressive individuals. The cause for elevated levels of cytokines in depression is not completely understood. We propose exogenous ATP activates purinergic receptors which in turn increase the levels of various proinflammatory factors in the pathophysiology of depression.

Conclusion: Mitochondria are integral to the function of neurons and undergo dysfunction in major depressive disorder patients. This dysfunction is reflected in all the various hypotheses that have been proposed for depression. Among the newer targets identified, which also involve mitochondria, includes the role of exogenous ATP. The diversity of purinergic receptors, and their differential expression among various individuals in the population, due to genetic and environmental (prenatal) influences, may influence the susceptibility and severity of depression. Identifying specific receptors involved and using patient-specific purinergic receptor antagonist may be an appropriate therapeutic course in the future.


Major depressive disorder, mitochondria, ATP, purinergic receptors, neuroinflammation, PBAIDs.


Neuroinflammation Research Lab, Faculty of Life Sciences and Biotechnology, South Asian University, New Delhi, Neuroinflammation Research Lab, Faculty of Life Sciences and Biotechnology, South Asian University, New Delhi

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