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MHRC study reveals that apelin mediates the antidepressant effects of physical exercise

16 Nov 2023

Research Results

Dr Sonata YAU, Member of the Mental Health Research Centre (MHRC) and Associate Professor in the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, presented at the annual meeting of The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) 2023 in Washington DC, United States.  The abstract entitled “Potential role of apelin in mediating the antidepressant effects of physical exercise” was selected by the Society of Neuroscience for press conference this year.  Out of over 12,500 abstracts submitted to the meeting, less than 50 are being offered this prestigious opportunity of speaking directly to the media.

The study revealed that apelin, a muscle-secreted peptide, is important for mediating the antidepressant effects of physical exercise. Sarcopenia, a muscle ageing condition, is strongly correlated with geriatric depression, but the exact muscle-brain crosstalk isn’t well understood. Previous research has shown that apelin is linked to sarcopenia, and is also associated with hippocampal neuroplasticity and antidepressant effects. Using a mouse model of chronic unpredictable stress, Dr Yau and her research team showed that stressed mice exhibited decreased apelin expression levels in the hippocampus, which could be restored by 4-week physical running. Knockout of apelin specifically in skeletal muscle reduced the antidepressant effects of exercise, whereas overexpression of muscle apelin elicited antidepressant effects. The research deepens our understanding of the potential role of apelin in mediating the crosstalk of the muscle-brain axis, and holds important implications for understanding stress-related disorders.

Topics Mental Health Research Centre
Research Units Mental Health Research Centre

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