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Collaborative Success Stories: Instrumental


University of Missouri scientists have made a considerable contribution to mental health.

Leveraging expertise in epigenetics, neuroscience and nutritional immunity, a team of MU researchers investigated the impact of dietary supplements on reducing symptoms of depression. They focused on an omega-3 fatty acid called Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). A deficiency of DHA has been linked to depression and neural cell death.

The team worked with socially isolated mice, a condition which usually leads to anhedonia, or the inability to experience pleasure. DHA was added to the diets of some mice, while others were fed normally. The mice who ate a normal diet showed symptoms of anhedonia, but a small amount of DHA—less than 1 percent of the diet—prevented the emergence of anhedonia in the other mice. Because 90 percent of the mouse genome lines up with that of humans, these findings could translate to future treatments for people living with anhedonia and other neurological symptoms.

Collaborators on the project included undergraduate student Lauren Anderson; Postdoctoral Fellow Dr. Jasarevic Eldin; Drs. Rocío Rivera and Kevin Fritsche of the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources; Dr. Patrick Hecht of the School of Medicine; and Drs. David Geary and David Beversdorf of the College of Arts and Science. Dr. Beversdorf also has an appointment in the School of Medicine.

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Related Initiative(s):
One Health/One Medicine