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Leslie Morrow, PhD, and her lab’s research was recently highlighted in an article published by the Wall Street Journal on postpartum depression in the United States. The article emphasizes the extensive range of challenges faced by new mothers in the U.S, including limited access to mental health services, rising healthcare costs, and therapist shortages. An IV infusion comprised of a derivative of progesterone, Brexanolone, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2019 for treatment of postpartum depression. However, the mechanism by which the drug provides its therapeutic effects was largely unknown. Now, ground-breaking research by Dr. Morrow and her lab demonstrate that Brexanolone works by inhibiting the key systemic inflammatory pathways that are associated with depression. Their research suggests that postpartum depression is likely caused, at least in part, by inflammation, and the study is the first of its kind to provide human data showing the blockade of certain inflammatory pathways is likely involved in treatment. In a country where approximately one in five new mothers experience mood and anxiety disorders during and post-pregnancy, new findings in the treatment of postpartum depression are invaluable. In addition, Dr. Morrow and her lab are now investigating whether inhibition of inflammation may be a viable approach for treatment of alcohol use disorder, where inflammation also plays a key role in the manifestation of the disorder.


The article can be accessed at