Abstract: “Light plays a pivotal role in the regulation of affective behaviors. However, the precise circuits that mediate the impact of light on depressive-like behaviors are not well understood. Here, we show that light influences depressive-like behaviors through a disynaptic circuit linking the retina and the lateral habenula (LHb). Specifically, M4-type melanopsin-expressing retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) innervate GABA neurons in the thalamic ventral lateral geniculate nucleus and intergeniculate leaflet (vLGN/IGL), which in turn inhibit CaMKIIα neurons in the LHb. Specific activation of vLGN/IGL-projecting RGCs, activation of LHb-projecting vLGN/IGL neurons, or inhibition of postsynaptic LHb neurons is sufficient to decrease the depressive-like behaviors evoked by long-term exposure to aversive stimuli or chronic social defeat stress. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the antidepressive effects of light therapy require activation of the retina-vLGN/IGL-LHb pathway. These results reveal a dedicated retina-vLGN/IGL-LHb circuit that regulates depressive-like behaviors and provide a potential mechanistic explanation for light treatment of depression.”

Huang L, Xi Y, Peng Y, Yang Y, Huang X, Fu Y, Tao Q, Xiao J, Yuan T, An K, Zhao H, Pu M, Xu F, Xue T, Luo M, So KF, Ren C: A Visual Circuit Related to Habenula Underlies the Antidepressive Effects of Light Therapy. Neuron [Epub ahead of print, Feb.9,2019; doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2019.01.037.]


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