Although it is known that sport acts as a natural antidepressant, the underlying mechanisms remain poorly understood at this stage. A new study published on May 27 in the scientific journal Mood Disorders presented more in-depth analyzes highlighting the essential role of lactic acid also known as lactate. According to the researchers, the latter acts directly on the brain and acts as an antidepressant.
For your information, lactate presents a molecule that the body produces during physical exertion.
Study explains key role of lactic acid in relieving depression
Is there a way to get around antidepressants and go for a natural remedy? Three words: PLAY SPORT! Several scientists have already proven that physical activity increases the levels of feel-good hormones, which significantly reduces the risk of suffering from depression. However, the exact mechanisms of action were not yet known. Swiss neuroscientists from the National Center of Competence in Research Synapsy finally shed new light.
More concretely, the experts were able to demonstrate the antidepressant effect of lactic acid. According to them, this molecule may have the ability to better treat depression in two different ways: either through an exercise program, or through another molecule with antioxidant properties. We are talking about NAHD – the active form of nicotinamide commonly known as vitamin B3, known in particular for its antidepressant effect.
These revelations are particularly important because about 30% of patients do not respond to treatment with antidepressants. As the number of people with depression increases on a daily basis, it is essential to find other ways to help these individuals.
For the purposes of their study, the experts injected rodents with doses of lactic acid comparable to those the body secretes during physical activity. A reduction in anhedonia has been observed. The latter presents one of the main symptoms of depression and manifests itself in a loss of interest or pleasure in all activities previously considered enjoyable.
But that’s not all. The researchers also noticed that lactic acid boosts neurogenesis in the hippocampus which is usually disrupted in depressed patients. By restoring this process, lactate reduced the depressive state in mice. However, additional tests will be necessary to confirm these results in humans.
Mood Disorders (mai 2021) : « Lactate Reveals All About Its Antidepressant Prowess », Jean-Luc Martin et Anthony Carrard.