Elevating the level of hypoxia inducible factor may be a new potential target for the treatment of depression

Ilhyang Kang, Douglas Kondo, Jungyoon Kim, In Kyoon Lyoo, Deborah Yurgelun-Todd, Jaeuk Hwang, Perry F. Renshaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Hypoxia inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) is a transcriptional factor that regulates gene expressions in response to decreased oxygen levels in the tissue, or hypoxia. HIF-1 exerts protective effects against hypoxia by mediating mitochondrial metabolism and consequently reducing oxidative stress. Recently, increased levels of oxidative stress and abnormal energy metabolism in the brain have been suggested to play essential roles in the pathogenesis of depression. Given that HIF-1 activates creatine metabolism and increases phosphocreatine levels in the intestinal epithelial cells, we assume that HIF-1 may induce similar processes in the brain. Elevated phosphocreatine levels in the brain, as measured by magnetic resonance spectroscopy, were associated with better treatment response to the antidepressants in individuals with depression. In addition, oral creatine supplements, which led to increased phosphocreatine levels in the brain, also enhanced the effects of antidepressants in individuals with depression. As such, we hypothesized that increasing the HIF-1, which potentially facilitates creatine metabolism in the brain, might be a new therapeutic target in depression. With this regard, we suggested that interventions to elevate the HIF-1 levels in the brain, including the intermittent hypoxia conditioning and hyperbaric oxygen therapy, might be considered as new additional treatments for depression.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110398
JournalMedical Hypotheses
Volume146
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2021

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