January 18, 2018 – ECT and Genes


Anchor lead: Could a specific gene help explain how certain therapies work for depression? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT, is known to help people with severe depression but can have side effects like memory loss. Now research by Irving Reti, an ECT expert at Johns Hopkins and colleagues, has shown in a mouse model that a certain gene in a specific area of the brain is activated following ECT therapy.

Reti: It’s certainly possible that the level of expression of this gene in patients, after all this gene is expressed in humans, that that could influence the development of the antidepressant response clinically in patients undergoing a course of ECT. We are certainly interested in that and in fact interested in trying to monitor at least blood levels of this particular gene at least in its protein form in patients before and after a course of ECT.  :27

Reti says defining the mechanism by which ECT works could allow therapies to be developed that wouldn’t involve delivering shocks to the brain. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.