Optogenetic stimulation and treatment of depression

In recent years, the science of optogenetics , a field of neurobiology , has been developing . Optical and genetic methods are used to study neural connections, neuronal excitation, and the activity of neural networks. A number of microbial opsin proteins are used :

  • ChR2 ( Channelrhodopsins );
  •  VChR1;
  •  galorhodopsin ( Halorhodopsin ); 
  • arherhodopsin ( Archaerhodopsin ) 

Proteins can be injected into neurons and act as ion channels that open or close when exposed to light. When exposed to 470 nm light, Channelrhodopsin-2 transmits Na + into neurons. Using the properties of opsins allows you to improve the method of deep brain stimulation ( Deep Brain Stimulation .   

Selective activation and inactivation of the fibers of the brain substance is a more modern method of treating Parkinson’s disease, cluster headaches. But the technology requires surgical intervention – electrode implantation , but stimulation occurs contactlessly, under the influence of photoactivation . The study of the effects of deep brain stimulation using opsins has just begun. But there is already evidence of the antidepressant effects of optogenetic stimulation of the prefrontal medial cerebral cortex. Devices based on this principle of operation are portable and can be used by the patient at any time of the day. 

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