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Comment & Response
October 2016

Hyperthermia for Major Depressive Disorder?

Author Affiliations
  • 1IMPACT Strategic Research Centre, School of Medicine, Deakin University, Geelong, Victoria, Australia
  • 2Orygen, The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health and the Centre for Youth Mental Health, the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health and the Department of Psychiatry, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
  • 3Translational Neuroscience Lab, Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota
  • 4Department of Psychiatry, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
  • 5Molecular and Medical Research SRC, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health, Deakin University, Waurn Ponds, Victoria, Australia
JAMA Psychiatry. 2016;73(10):1095-1096. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2016.1532

To the Editor In their article in JAMA Psychiatry, Janssen and colleagues1 describe an intriguing pilot study showing that whole-body hyperthermia was superior to sham in reducing depression. Their conjecture was that warm-sensitive afferent thermosensory pathways affect mood regulatory neural activity.1 However, these data support an alternate hypothesis, which is that depression is associated with dysregulated mitochondrial function, the extent of which correlates with symptom severity and is associated with decreased oxidative energy generation and cerebral glucose use. Multiple psychiatric disorders are associated with a shift from aerobic to glycolytic energy generation. If it is shown that a therapy that increases mitochondrial energy generation also improves depressive symptoms, this would be useful, albeit indirect, proof of principle of this hypothesis.

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