Antidepressant could help slow Alzheimer's disease
Researchers have found that a commonly prescribed antidepressant can reduce production of the main ingredient in Alzheimer's brain plaques.
Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the University of Pennsylvania, support preliminary mouse studies that evaluated a variety of antidepressants.
Brain plaques are tied closely to memory problems and other cognitive impairments caused by Alzheimer's disease. Stopping plaque buildup may halt the disastrous mental decline caused by the disorder.
The scientists found that the antidepressant citalopram stopped the growth of plaques in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease. And in young adults who were cognitively healthy, a single dose of the antidepressant lowered by 37 percent the production of amyloid beta, the primary ingredient in plaques.
Senior author John Cirrito, PhD, assistant professor of neurology at Washington University, said antidepressants appear to be significantly reducing amyloid beta production, and that's exciting.
He said while antidepressants generally are well tolerated, they have risks and side effects. Until we can more definitively prove that these drugs help slow or stop Alzheimer's in humans, the risks aren't worth it. There is still much more work to do.
Amyloid beta is a protein produced by normal brain activity. Levels of this protein rise in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's, causing it to clump together into plaques. Plaques also are sometimes present in cognitively normal brains.
The findings have been published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
(Posted on 15-05-2014)