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Concept: Mood disorder


Humour processing is a complex information-processing task that is dependent on cognitive and emotional aspects which presumably influence frame-shifting and conceptual blending, mental operations that underlie humour processing. The aim of the current study was to find distinctive groups of subjects with respect to black humour processing, intellectual capacities, mood disturbance and aggressiveness. A total of 156 adults rated black humour cartoons and conducted measurements of verbal and nonverbal intelligence, mood disturbance and aggressiveness. Cluster analysis yields three groups comprising following properties: (1) moderate black humour preference and moderate comprehension; average nonverbal and verbal intelligence; low mood disturbance and moderate aggressiveness; (2) low black humour preference and moderate comprehension; average nonverbal and verbal intelligence, high mood disturbance and high aggressiveness; and (3) high black humour preference and high comprehension; high nonverbal and verbal intelligence; no mood disturbance and low aggressiveness. Age and gender do not differ significantly, differences in education level can be found. Black humour preference and comprehension are positively associated with higher verbal and nonverbal intelligence as well as higher levels of education. Emotional instability and higher aggressiveness apparently lead to decreased levels of pleasure when dealing with black humour. These results support the hypothesis that humour processing involves cognitive as well as affective components and suggest that these variables influence the execution of frame-shifting and conceptual blending in the course of humour processing.

Concepts: Psychology, Cluster analysis, Educational psychology, Emotion, Mood disorder, Higher education, Mood, Conceptual blending



The relationship between perceived rearing and the postpartum depressive state remains unclear. We aimed to examine whether perceived rearing is a risk factor for postpartum depression as measured by the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS), and whether the score of perceived rearing is affected by depressive mood (the state dependency of perceived rearing).

Concepts: Childbirth, Epidemiology, Psychometrics, Bipolar disorder, Mood disorders, Mood disorder, Postpartum depression


Anxiety and depression are major chronic mood disorders, and the etiopathology for each appears to be repeated exposure to diverse unpredictable stress factors. Most of the studies on anxiety and related mood disorders are performed in rodents, and a good model is chronic unpredictable stress (CUS). In this study, we have attempted to understand the molecular basis of the neuroglial and behavioral changes underlying CUS-induced mood disorders in the simplest vertebrate model, the zebrafish, Danio rerio. Zebrafish were subjected to a CUS paradigm in which two different stressors were used daily for 15 days, and thorough behavioral analyses were performed to assess anxiety and related mood disorder phenotypes using the novel tank test, shoal cohesion and scototaxis. Fifteen days of exposure to chronic stressors appears to induce an anxiety and related mood disorder phenotype. Decreased neurogenesis, another hallmark of anxiety and related disorders in rodents, was also observed in this zebrafish model. The common molecular markers of rodent anxiety and related disorders, corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF), calcineurin (ppp3r1a) and phospho cyclic AMP response element binding protein (pCREB), were also replicated in the fish model. Finally, using 2DE FTMS/ITMSMS proteomics analyses, 18 proteins were found to be deregulated in zebrafish anxiety and related disorders. The most affected process was mitochondrial function, 4 of the 18 differentially regulated proteins were mitochondrial proteins: PHB2, SLC25A5, VDAC3 and IDH2, as reported in rodent and clinical samples. Thus, the zebrafish CUS model and proteomics can facilitate not only uncovering new molecular targets of anxiety and related mood disorders but also the routine screening of compounds for drug development.

Concepts: Protein, Oxygen, Mitochondrion, Antidepressant, Mood disorder, Zebrafish


Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a common illness accompanied by considerable morbidity, mortality, costs, and heightened risk of suicide. We conducted a genome-wide association meta-analysis based in 135,458 cases and 344,901 controls and identified 44 independent and significant loci. The genetic findings were associated with clinical features of major depression and implicated brain regions exhibiting anatomical differences in cases. Targets of antidepressant medications and genes involved in gene splicing were enriched for smaller association signal. We found important relationships of genetic risk for major depression with educational attainment, body mass, and schizophrenia: lower educational attainment and higher body mass were putatively causal, whereas major depression and schizophrenia reflected a partly shared biological etiology. All humans carry lesser or greater numbers of genetic risk factors for major depression. These findings help refine the basis of major depression and imply that a continuous measure of risk underlies the clinical phenotype.

Concepts: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, Cognitive behavioral therapy, Schizophrenia, Bipolar disorder, Major depressive disorder, Mood disorder, Sertraline, Suicide


The habenula is a small, evolutionarily conserved brain structure that plays a central role in aversive processing and is hypothesised to be hyperactive in depression, contributing to the generation of symptoms such as anhedonia. However, habenula responses during aversive processing have yet to be reported in individuals with major depressive disorder (MDD). Unmedicated and currently depressed MDD patients (N=25, aged 18-52 years) and healthy volunteers (N=25, aged 19-52 years) completed a passive (Pavlovian) conditioning task with appetitive (monetary gain) and aversive (monetary loss and electric shock) outcomes during high-resolution functional magnetic resonance imaging; data were analysed using computational modelling. Arterial spin labelling was used to index resting-state perfusion and high-resolution anatomical images were used to assess habenula volume. In healthy volunteers, habenula activation increased as conditioned stimuli (CSs) became more strongly associated with electric shocks. This pattern was significantly different in MDD subjects, for whom habenula activation decreased significantly with increasing association between CSs and electric shocks. Individual differences in habenula volume were negatively associated with symptoms of anhedonia across both groups. MDD subjects exhibited abnormal negative task-related (phasic) habenula responses during primary aversive conditioning. The direction of this effect is opposite to that predicted by contemporary theoretical accounts of depression based on findings in animal models. We speculate that the negative habenula responses we observed may result in the loss of the capacity to actively avoid negative cues in MDD, which could lead to excessive negative focus.Molecular Psychiatry advance online publication, 31 May 2016; doi:10.1038/mp.2016.81.

Concepts: Magnetic resonance imaging, Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, Bipolar disorder, Major depressive disorder, Seasonal affective disorder, Mood disorder, Dysthymia, Types of psychological depression


Major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder share symptoms that may reflect core mood disorder features. This has led to the pursuit of intermediate phenotypes and a dimensional approach to understand neurobiological disruptions in mood disorders. Executive dysfunction, including cognitive control, may represent a promising intermediate phenotype across major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder. This study examined dimensions of cognitive control in women with major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder in comparison to healthy control subjects using two separate, consecutive experiments. For Experiment 1, participants completed a behavioural cognitive control task (healthy controls = 150, major depressive disorder = 260, bipolar disorder = 202; age range 17-84 years). A sample of those participants (healthy controls = 17, major depressive disorder = 19, and bipolar disorder = 16) completed a similar cognitive control task in an event-related design functional magnetic resonance imaging protocol for Experiment 2. Results for Experiment 1 showed greater impairments on the cognitive control task in patients with mood disorders relative to healthy controls (P < 0.001), with more of those in the mood disorder group falling into the 'impaired' range when using clinical cut-offs (<5th percentile). Experiment 2 revealed only a few areas of shared activation differences in mood disorder greater than healthy controls. Activation analyses using performance as a regressor, irrespective of diagnosis, revealed within and extra-network areas that were more active in poor performers. In summary, performance and activation during cognitive control tasks may represent an intermediate phenotype for mood disorders. However, cognitive control dysfunction is not uniform across women with mood disorders, and activation is linked to performance more so than disease. These findings support subtype and dimensional approaches to understanding risk and expression of mood disorders and are a promising area of inquiry, in line with the Research Domain Criteria initiative of NIMH.

Concepts: Schizophrenia, Bipolar disorder, Major depressive disorder, Seasonal affective disorder, Mood disorder, Dysthymia, Creativity, Mood


Stress can be a motivational force for decisive action and adapting to novel environment; whereas, exposure to chronic stress contributes to the development of depression and anxiety. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying stress-responsive behaviors are not fully understood. Here, we identified the orphan receptor GPR158 as a novel regulator operating in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) that links chronic stress to depression. GPR158 is highly upregulated in the PFC of human subjects with major depressive disorder. Exposure of mice to chronic stress also increased GPR158 protein levels in the PFC in a glucocorticoid-dependent manner. Viral overexpression of GPR158 in the PFC induced depressive-like behaviors. In contrast GPR158 ablation, led to a prominent antidepressant-like phenotype and stress resiliency. We found that GPR158 exerts its effects via modulating synaptic strength altering AMPA receptor activity. Taken together, our findings identify a new player in mood regulation and introduce a pharmacological target for managing depression.

Concepts: Serotonin, Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, Cognitive behavioral therapy, Bipolar disorder, Major depressive disorder, Mood disorder, Dysthymia


Recent reviews question current animal models of depression and emphasise the need for ethological models of mood disorders based on animals living under natural conditions. Domestic horses encounter chronic stress, including potential stress at work, which can induce behavioural disorders (e.g. “apathy”). Our pioneering study evaluated the potential of domestic horses in their usual environment to become an ethological model of depression by testing this models' face validity (i.e. behavioural similarity with descriptions of human depressive states).

Concepts: Psychology, Model organism, Animal testing, Bipolar disorder, Major depressive disorder, Mood disorder, Dysthymia, Animal model


Genetic, dietary, and inflammatory factors contribute to the etiology of major mood disorders (MMD), thus impeding the identification of specific biomarkers to assist in diagnosis and treatment. We tested association of vitamin D and inflammatory markers in 36 adolescents with bipolar disorder (BD) and major depressive disorder (MDD) forms of MMD and without MMD (non-mood control). We also assessed the overall level of inflammation using a cell-based reporter assay for nuclear factor kappa-B (NFκB) activation and measuring antibodies to oxidized LDL. We found that these factors were similar between non-mood and MMD youth. To identify potential biomarkers, we developed a screening immunoprecipitation-sequencing approach based on inflammatory brain glia maturation factor beta (GMFβ). We discovered that a homolog of GMFβ in human plasma is vitamin D-binding protein (DBP) and validated this finding using immunoprecipitation with anti-DBP antibodies and mass spectrometry/sequencing analysis. We quantified DBP levels in participants by western blot. DBP levels in BD participants were significantly higher (136%) than in participants without MMD (100%). The increase in DBP levels in MDD participants (121.1%) was not statistically different from these groups. The DBP responds early to cellular damage by binding of structural proteins and activating inflammatory cells. A product of enzymatic cleavage of DBP has been described as macrophage-activating factor. Circulating DBP is comprised of heterogenous high and low molecular fractions that are only partially recognized by mono- and polyclonal ELISA and are not suitable for the quantitative comparison of DBP in non-mood and MDD participants. Our data suggest DBP as a marker candidate of BD warranting its validation in a larger cohort of adolescent and adult MMD patients.

Concepts: Inflammation, Vitamin D, Schizophrenia, Bipolar disorder, Major depressive disorder, Seasonal affective disorder, Mood disorder, Dysthymia