Navigation Links
Prozac Makes Old Brain Cells Young

Research may explain antidepressants' effectiveness

THURSDAY, April 17 (HealthDay News) -- The antidepressant Prozac has been shown to restore old brain cells to their more plastic youthful condition in animal experiments, researchers report.

The work not only provides a possible new explanation for the antidepressant activity of the medication but also raises the distant prospect that it could be used to treat other conditions caused by malfunction of brain cells, said study lead author Jose Fernando Maya Vetencourt.

"It suggests potential clinical applications for the drug in different pathologies," said Vetencourt, a researcher in neurobiology at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa, Italy. One of them is amblyopia, the "lazy eye" condition in which one eye is weaker than the other, because it was not used enough in early childhood, he said.

It's much too early to say when, whether or how Prozac, whose generic name is fluoxetine, could be used in such treatments, Vetencourt said. It's also too early to say whether other members of the chemical family of antidepressants to which Prozac belongs have the same youth-restoring ability, or whether other antidepressants do the same thing, he said.

"All this needs to be validated in animal models," Vetencourt said. His study colleagues, who included researchers in Finland, have begun to study "the expression of genes which may be correlated to the functional changes," he said.

The findings were published in the April 17 issue of the journal Science.

Amblyopia was listed as a possible target, because the experiments were aimed at the brain cells governing vision. Vetencourt and his colleagues gave regular doses of Prozac to adult rats whose vision had been impaired by lack of exposure to visual images at a critical period in their early development. Tests showed changes in brain protein expression and electrical signaling typical of younger brain cells and recovery of vision by the animals.

Future experiments will try to determine whether the same treatment will have a similar effect on brain cells governing functions other than vision, Vetencourt said.

Prozac is one of the antidepressant drugs listed as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), so called because they block the activity of serotonin, a molecule that transmits signals between brain cells. There are a number of other chemical families of antidepressant drugs, also described by their activity affecting brain chemistry -- MAO inhibitors, for example.

"There have been discussions about the theory that a cause of depression is lack of growth in the brain," said Dr. Julio Licinio, chairman of psychiatry at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. "It used to be thought that no change could occur in the adult brain. New research has shown that there can be new growth in the brain, so the theory is that depression is caused by lack of new growth."

The new study "supports that theory in a very interesting way," Licinio said. "It both shows a potential new treatment for depression and also further supports the idea that antidepressants act because they promote growth in the brain."

And what applies to Prozac probably is true of other SSRIs and of antidepressants in general, he said. "There have been a lot of other papers showing that other antidepressants have the same property of growth in the brain," Licinio said.

More information

You can learn more about antidepressants from the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

SOURCES: Jose Fernando Maya Vetencourt, Ph.D., researcher, neurobiology, Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa, Italy; Julio Licinio, M.D., chairman, psychiatry, Unversity of Miami Miller School of Medicine; April 18, 2008, Science

Copyright©2008 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved

Related medicine news :

1. New Smart Technology Makes Patient Data Collection Easier, More Efficient
2. WeissComm Partners Makes 10 New Hires as It Wins New Accounts and Grows Existing Business
3. Independence Blue Cross Makes Music for Members Ears
4. A Place for Mom COO Makes Seattles 40 Under 40 List
5. Sesame Street Exhibition Makes Texas Premier at The Health Museum
6. Study makes progress in zoning in on biomarkers for better colon cancer treatment
7. New Online Tool Makes Enrollment in Blue Cross of California Easier
8. 1-800-PACK-RAT Makes a Splash During Annual Walk for Hope
9. Eye on Safety Makes Halloween Less Scary
10. An Industry First: New Cooper Health Company Makes Group Employee Benefits Consulting and Wellness Program Design a Package Deal
11. Michigan State Medical Society Foundation Makes A Difference by Assisting Those in Crisis Shelters
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... June 27, 2016 , ... Quality metrics are proliferating in cancer care, and ... in the eye of the beholder, according to experts who offered insights and commentary ... of Managed Care. For the full issue, click here . , For the ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... June 26, 2016 , ... Brent Kasmer, a legally blind and certified personal trainer is ... a fitness app. The fitness app plans to fix the two major problems leading the ... one size fits all type program , They don’t eliminate all the reasons ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... The temporary closing of Bruton Memorial Library on June 21 ... brings up a new, often overlooked aspect of head lice: the parasite’s ability to live ... not a common occurrence, but a necessary one in the event that lice have simply ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 25, 2016 , ... ... athletes and non-athletes recover from injury. Recently, he has implemented orthobiologic procedures as ... City area —Johnson is one of the first doctors to perform the treatment. ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... Michigan (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 , ... Those ... deal with these feelings, many turn to unhealthy avenues, such as drug or alcohol ... of Marne, Michigan, has released tools for healthy coping following a traumatic event. , ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... -- Research and Markets has announced the addition ... report to their offering. ... The World Market for Companion Diagnostics covers the world ... in the report includes the following: , ... by Region (N. America, EU, ROW), 2015-2020 , World ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... NAMUR , Belgium , ...  (NYSE MKT: VNRX), today announced the appointment of ... Board of Directors as a Non-Executive Director, effective ... the Company,s Audit, Compensation and Nominations and Governance ... Board, Dr. Futcher will provide independent expertise and ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Research and Markets has announced the ... to 2022" report to their offering. ... patients with kidney failure, it replaces the function of kidneys ... blood and thus the treatment helps to keep the patient ... Increasing number of ESRD patients & substantial ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: