Newly discovered brain receptor controls our mood

Newly discovered brain receptor controls our mood

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Researchers discovered a receptor in the brain that regulates negative moods

An international research team has discovered a receptor in a poorly understood part of the brain that is believed to be related to negative moods. The discovery published in the scientific journal “Science” could lead to more targeted drugs.

Researchers have discovered a unique receptor in the brain that is believed to regulate negative moods. According to a communication from the University of Sydney (Australia), the pea-sized receptor was found in a little-studied region in the center of the human brain, the media habenula.

Function of the brain region is not yet well understood

According to the information, the result is the culmination of eight years of careful research in which Dr. Yo Otsu, now at the University of Sydney and at the Kolling Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, as well as scientists from France, Canada and Hungary under the direction of Dr. Marco Diana were involved.

The first author Dr. Otsu said he and his colleagues assume that the receptor plays a role in regulating negative moods. It is known as a glycine-controlled [N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor] NMDA receptor.

"The function of the media habenula is not very well understood, but it is believed to be related to negative motivational states," said Dr. Otsu.

Newly discovered receptors only need a neurotransmitter

“We knew that there are GluN3A subunits in the medial habenula and that NMDA receptors that are formed with these subunits are likely to have different properties. We weren't expecting to find the receptor we found, ”said Dr. Otsu.

NMDA receptors typically require two different neurotransmitters (glutamate and glycine) to bind and activate the receptor. The newly discovered receptor only needs a neurotransmitter (glycine) to activate it.

“Receptors control brain function and are the target of around 40 percent of all current medication. The discovery of this rare type of receptor and its role in modulating anxiety and the effects of negative experiences therefore means that it has the potential to be a highly specific target for mood-regulating drugs, ”says Dr. Otsu.

“Psychotropic drugs often have side effects because they are not specific and affect the entire brain. This discovery has the potential to develop more targeted drugs with fewer side effects, ”the lead author continued.

Effects on future medication

"The results could also affect future pain-relieving drugs with the receptor subunit located in a part of the brain that is known to be involved in pain," said the researcher.

“We will now begin research within the Kolling Institute to better understand the role of this newly discovered receptor and ultimately to develop drugs that target it. This could lead to advances in mental health drugs and pain relievers, ”said Dr. Otsu. (ad)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Science: Control of aversion by glycine-gated GluN1 / GluN3A NMDA receptors in the adult medial habenula, (accessed: November 11, 2019), Science
  • University of Sydney: Scientists discover mood-altering brain receptor, (accessed: November 11, 2019), University of Sydney

Video: Emotional Blunting with Antidepressants (June 2022).


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