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U. Iowa study suggests antidepressants aid physical recovery in stroke
Date:4/7/2011

n illness and on maximizing recovery with rehabilitation.

"The findings of this study are important because they imply that early administration of an adjunctive medication, an antidepressant, might have an effect on improving outcomes independent of the medication's actions on mood," said Harold Adams, M.D., UI professor of neurology and a study co-author. "If future studies confirm our observation regarding the use of antidepressant medications as an ancillary therapy given to people with stroke, including those without depression, the public health impact could be huge."

The study suggests that the antidepressant medication is doing something, independent of treating depression, that improves physical recovery from stroke. Robinson notes that although the mechanisms underlying the effect are not yet known there is evidence that antidepressants can inhibit a type of inflammatory protein that is released in the brain during stroke, and can promote growth of new cells in specific parts of the brain.

"Our hypothesis is that the antidepressant medication is blocking the inflammatory proteins that inhibit cellular growth and that's why you get the cellular growth in certain parts of the brain," said Robinson, who also holds the Paul W. Penningroth Chair. "These new neurons may also explain why the improvement continues, because for a period of months and perhaps more than a year these cells continue to develop new connections, synapses and continue to grow and augment the recovery from the stroke that disrupted those motor neurons."

In the UI study, 83 patients who had recently had a stroke were randomly assigned to receive antidepressants (54 patients) or placebo (29 patients) for three months. The patients' physical, cognitive and psychiatric symptoms were assessed every three months for one year. Thirty-six of the patients who received antidepressants and 25 of the patients on placebo completed the one-year study.

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Contact: Jennifer Brown
jennifer-l-brown@uiowa.edu
319-356-7124
University of Iowa Health Care
Source:Eurekalert

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