Environmental factors can significantly affect disease prevalence, including neuropsychiatric disorders such as depression. The ratio of deuterium to protium in water shows substantial geographical variation, which could affect disease susceptibility. Thus the link between deuterium content of water and depression was investigated, both epidemiologically, and in a mouse model of chronic mild stress. We performed a correlation analysis between deuterium content of tap water and rates of depression in regions of the USA. Next, we used a 10-day chronic stress paradigm to test whether 2-week deuterium-depleted water treatment (91 ppm) affects depressive-like behavior and hippocampal SERT. The effect of deuterium-depletion on sleep electrophysiology was also evaluated in nave mice. There was a geographic correlation between a content of deuterium and the prevalence of depression across the USA. In the chronic stress model, depressive-like features were reduced in mice fed with deuterium-depleted water, and SERT expression was decreased in mice treated with deuterium-treated water compared with regular water. Five days of predator stress also suppressed proliferation in the dentate gyrus; this effect was attenuated in mice fed with deuterium-depleted water. Finally, in naive mice, deuterium-depleted water treatment increased EEG indices of wakefulness, and decreased duration of REM sleep, phenomena that have been shown to result from the administration of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI). Our data suggest that the deuterium content of water may influence the incidence of affective disorder-related pathophysiology and major depression, which might be mediated by the serotoninergic mechanisms.
- Chronic stress
- Hippocampal cell proliferation