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Exercise may boost brain's natural antidepressantReuters said:Exercise seems to increase the production of naturally occurring brain chemical with antidepressant effects in mice, researchers reported Sunday.
The findings, published in the journal Nature Medicine, point to potential new ways to treat depression in people.
In particular, exercise enhanced activity in the gene for a nerve growth factor known as VGF. Nerve growth factors are small proteins important in the development and maintenance of nerve cells.
Moreover, when the researchers infused a synthetic version of VGF into the brains of the mice, it produced a "robust antidepressant effect" in standardized tests of animals placed in stressful situations.
Besides offering more support for the benefits of exercise, the findings also point to VGF as a target for new antidepressants, according to Duman and his colleagues. Such medications, they point out, would work by an entirely different mechanism than existing antidepressants, which are effective for about 65 percent of patients.