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Serotonin is one of several chemical messengers in the brain, or neurotransmitters, which help brain cells communicate with one another. Among many other functions, serotonin is involved in regulating mood. Problems with making or using the right amount of serotonin have been linked to many mental disorders, including depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, autism, and schizophrenia.

There are many genes that code for serotonin. Some of these genes guide serotonin production and other are involved in its activity. The serotonin transporter gene makes a protein that directs serotonin from the space between brain cells — where most neurotransmitters are relayed from one cell to another — back into cells, where it can be reused. Since the most widely prescribed class of medications for treating major depression acts by blocking this transporter protein, the gene has been a prime suspect in mood and anxiety disorders.

The serotonin transporter gene has many versions. Since everyone inherits a copy of this gene from each parent, a person may have two copies of the same version or one copy each of two different versions. One version of the serotonin transporter gene makes less protein, resulting in decreased transport of serotonin back into cells. This version has also long been the focus of depression research due to its suggested effect on risk.
Benefits and risks of taking antidepressant medications during pregnancy

Benefits and risks of taking antidepressant medications during pregnancy

Treating maternal psychiatric disorder with commonly used antidepressants is associated with a lower risk of certain pregnancy complications including preterm birth and delivery by Caesarean section, according to researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University Medical Center, and the New York State Psychiatric Institute. However, the medications -- selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs -- resulted in an increased risk of neonatal problems. [More]
New non-invasive spinal cord stimulation helps paralyzed men voluntarily move their legs

New non-invasive spinal cord stimulation helps paralyzed men voluntarily move their legs

Five men with complete motor paralysis were able to voluntarily generate step-like movements thanks to a new strategy that non-invasively delivers electrical stimulation to their spinal cords, according to a new study funded in part by the National Institutes of Health. The strategy, called transcutaneous stimulation, delivers electrical current to the spinal cord by way of electrodes strategically placed on the skin of the lower back. [More]
Female patients with depression have abnormally high expression levels of glutamate receptor genes

Female patients with depression have abnormally high expression levels of glutamate receptor genes

Numerous genes that regulate the activity of a neurotransmitter in the brain have been found to be abundant in brain tissue of depressed females. This could be an underlying cause of the higher incidence of suicide among women, according to research at the University of Illinois at Chicago. [More]
Diagnosing psychiatric disorder may not be as important as prescribing effective treatment

Diagnosing psychiatric disorder may not be as important as prescribing effective treatment

Nailing the diagnosis of a psychiatric disorder may not be important in prescribing effective treatment, according to Mark Zimmerman, M.D., a clinical researcher at Rhode Island Hospital. His opinion editorial was published online today in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. [More]
New study identifies potential antidepressant medications with few side effects

New study identifies potential antidepressant medications with few side effects

A new study by researchers at University of Maryland School of Medicine has identified promising compounds that could successfully treat depression in less than 24 hours while minimizing side effects. Although they have not yet been tested in people, the compounds could offer significant advantages over current antidepressant medications. [More]
MGH investigators report that medication could augment benefits of bariatric surgery

MGH investigators report that medication could augment benefits of bariatric surgery

New findings about the mechanisms involved - or not involved - in the effects of the most common form of bariatric surgery suggest that combining surgery with a specific type of medication could augment the benefits of the procedure. In a report that has been published online in the journal Endocrinology, Massachusetts General Hospital investigators report that the effects of Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) do not utilize neurologic pathways controlled by the serotonin 2C receptor. [More]
UCSD researchers report that statins make women aggressive, but men calmer

UCSD researchers report that statins make women aggressive, but men calmer

Statins are a hugely popular drug class used to manage blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. Previous studies had raised questions about adverse behavioral changes with statins, such as irritability or violence, but findings with statins have been inconsistent. In the first randomized trial to look at statin effects on behavior, researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine report that aggressive behavior typically declined among men placed on statins (compared to placebo), but typically increased among women placed on statins. [More]
Concert Pharmaceuticals’ precision deuteration platform can enhance metabolic properties of drugs

Concert Pharmaceuticals’ precision deuteration platform can enhance metabolic properties of drugs

Substituting deuterium for certain hydrogen atoms in molecules has been shown to enhance the metabolic properties of a number of drugs and provides a promising approach to the discovery and development of innovative drug products. [More]
Axovant Sciences accepts two presentations at Alzheimer's Association International Conference 2015

Axovant Sciences accepts two presentations at Alzheimer's Association International Conference 2015

Axovant Sciences Ltd., a leading clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the treatment of dementia, today announced the acceptance of two presentations at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference 2015 (AAIC) being held in Washington, D.C. from July 18-23, 2015. [More]
People with specific gene variant at greater risk of developing depressions

People with specific gene variant at greater risk of developing depressions

People born with a particular gene variant have a greater risk of developing depressions, a recent study from the Department of Psychology at The University of Oslo shows. [More]
Research shows New Zealand blackcurrants are good for keeping us mentally young and agile

Research shows New Zealand blackcurrants are good for keeping us mentally young and agile

Research has shown that New Zealand blackcurrants are good for keeping us mentally young and agile, a finding that could have potential in managing the mental decline associated with aging populations, or helping people with brain disorders such as Parkinson's disease or depression. [More]
Certain anti-nausea medications used after operation could increase risk for irregular heartbeat

Certain anti-nausea medications used after operation could increase risk for irregular heartbeat

Certain commonly prescribed anti-nausea medications given to patients during or after an operation could increase their risk of developing an irregular heartbeat, new research has found. [More]
Recurrent major depression may increase osteoporosis risk in men

Recurrent major depression may increase osteoporosis risk in men

A recent study from the University of Eastern Finland in collaboration with Deakin University, Australia, shows that recurrent major depressive disorder (MDD) in men is associated with lower bone density. The use of antidepressants was also associated with lower bone mineral density (BMD), but this association was dependent on the person's weight and site of bone measurement. [More]
New study gives insight into the mental health of teens, children with Down syndrome

New study gives insight into the mental health of teens, children with Down syndrome

A new study gives insight into the mental health of children and teens with Down syndrome and the behavioral medications that medical caregivers sometimes prescribe for them. [More]
Use of antidepressants in late pregnancy may be associated with increased risk of PPHN

Use of antidepressants in late pregnancy may be associated with increased risk of PPHN

An analysis of approximately 3.8 million pregnancies finds that use of antidepressants late in pregnancy may be associated with an increased risk of persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN), according to a study in the June 2 issue of JAMA. However, the absolute risk was small and the risk increase appears more modest than suggested in previous studies. [More]
Researchers explore association between SSRI exposure in late pregnancy and risk of PPHN

Researchers explore association between SSRI exposure in late pregnancy and risk of PPHN

Use of antidepressants late in pregnancy has been controversial since the FDA issued a Public Health Advisory in 2006 warning that the use of antidepressants in late pregnancy may increase risk of persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN), a condition that typically occurs in term or near-term infants and presents within hours of birth with severe respiratory failure requiring intubation and mechanical ventilation. [More]
Helsinn's Akynzeo for CINV prevention receives EC approval

Helsinn's Akynzeo for CINV prevention receives EC approval

Helsinn, the Swiss Group focused on building quality cancer care, announces today that on 27th May 2015, the European Commission (EC) approved Akynzeo® (netupitant-palonosetron) for the prevention of acute and delayed nausea and vomiting associated with highly emetogenic cisplatin-based cancer chemotherapy and moderately emetogenic cancer chemotherapy in the European Union. [More]

Study explores efficacy of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in reducing depressed mood

Many have recently questioned the efficacy of the most common antidepressant medications, the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). The conclusion that these drugs are ineffective is however partly based on a misinterpretation of the outcome of the clinical trials once conducted to demonstrate their efficacy. This was the finding of a study conducted by researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy. [More]
Serotonin and TGF-beta pathways link diet to health and ageing

Serotonin and TGF-beta pathways link diet to health and ageing

Diet exerts a major impact on health and ageing. The nervous system plays an important role in this process but, thus far, how food signals are interpreted by the nervous system has been a mystery. [More]
STA, Helsinn announce approval of AKYNZEO for prevention of chemotherapy-induced CINV

STA, Helsinn announce approval of AKYNZEO for prevention of chemotherapy-induced CINV

Australian biopharmaceutical company Specialised Therapeutics Australia and Helsinn, a Swiss group focused on building quality cancer care, announce that the Therapeutic Goods Administration has approved AKYNZEO for the prevention of acute and delayed nausea and vomiting associated with initial and repeat courses of moderately and highly emetogenic cancer chemotherapy. [More]
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