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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.
Scratching itchy skin causes the brain to release serotonin, intensifies itchy feeling

Scratching itchy skin causes the brain to release serotonin, intensifies itchy feeling

Turns out your mom was right: Scratching an itch only makes it worse. New research from scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis indicates that scratching causes the brain to release serotonin, which intensifies the itch sensation. [More]
Neurocrine Biosciences' NBI-98854 drug gets breakthrough designation for tardive dyskinesia

Neurocrine Biosciences' NBI-98854 drug gets breakthrough designation for tardive dyskinesia

Neurocrine Biosciences, Inc. announced today that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation for its Vesicular Monoamine Transporter 2 inhibitor, NBI-98854, in tardive dyskinesia. [More]
Novel way for treating non-cardiac chest pain due to esophageal hypersensitivity

Novel way for treating non-cardiac chest pain due to esophageal hypersensitivity

Chest pain doesn't necessarily come from the heart. An estimated 200,000 Americans each year experience non-cardiac chest pain, which in addition to pain can involve painful swallowing, discomfort and anxiety. Non-cardiac chest pain can be frightening for patients and result in visits to the emergency room because the painful symptoms, while often originating in the esophagus, can mimic a heart attack. [More]
Fatty fish intake appears to increase antidepressant response rates

Fatty fish intake appears to increase antidepressant response rates

Up to half of patients who suffer from depression (Major Depressive Disorder, or MDD) do not respond to treatment with SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors). Now a group of Dutch researchers have carried out a study which shows that increasing fatty fish intake appears to increase the response rate in patients who do not respond to antidepressants. [More]
New drug naming system to be presented at ECNP conference in Berlin

New drug naming system to be presented at ECNP conference in Berlin

What's in a name? Doctors have found that the name of the drug you are prescribed significantly influences how the patient sees the treatment. [More]
New research shows link between birth season and mood disorders

New research shows link between birth season and mood disorders

New research shows that the season you are born has a significant impact on your risk of developing mood disorders. People born at certain times of year may have a greater chance of developing certain types of affective temperaments, which in turn can lead to mood disorders (affective disorders). [More]
Eisai, Helsinn Group announce FDA approval of AKYNZEO for prevention of CINV

Eisai, Helsinn Group announce FDA approval of AKYNZEO for prevention of CINV

Helsinn Group and Eisai Inc. announced today that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved AKYNZEO® for the prevention of acute and delayed nausea and vomiting associated with initial and repeat courses of cancer chemotherapy, including, but not limited to, highly emetogenic chemotherapy. [More]
Neuroscientists solve mystery of ‘chemo brain’

Neuroscientists solve mystery of ‘chemo brain’

It is estimated that as many as half of patients taking cancer drugs experience a decrease in mental sharpness. [More]
Epidurals and reduced postpartum depression: an interview with Dr. Zakowski

Epidurals and reduced postpartum depression: an interview with Dr. Zakowski

The “maternity blues”, which resolve within 10 days of giving birth, occurs in up to 80% of new moms. A major depressive episode, by Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) criteria, is defined as having at least a 2-week period of persistent depressed mood ... [More]
Researchers identify control mechanism for mood disorders

Researchers identify control mechanism for mood disorders

Researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have identified a control mechanism for an area of the brain that processes sensory and emotive information that humans experience as "disappointment." [More]
People who take antidepressants are twice as likely to have dental implants fail

People who take antidepressants are twice as likely to have dental implants fail

A team from McGill University has discovered that people who take the most common antidepressants (such as Celexa, Paxil, Lexapro, Prozac, and Zoloft, the Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors or SSRIs) are twice as likely to have dental implants fail as those who are not taking SSRIs. [More]
Lower rates of suicide linked with more daily sunshine

Lower rates of suicide linked with more daily sunshine

Lower rates of suicide are associated with more daily sunshine in the prior 14 to 60 days. Light interacts with brain serotonin systems and possibly influences serotonin-related behaviors. Those behaviors, such as mood and impulsiveness, can play a role in suicide. [More]
Research to help patients suffering from severe spinal cord injuries

Research to help patients suffering from severe spinal cord injuries

Many patients suffer from severe spinal cord injuries after being involved in traffic accidents or accidents at work. [More]
Treatment with SSRIs linked with increased failure risk of osseointegrated implants

Treatment with SSRIs linked with increased failure risk of osseointegrated implants

The International and American Associations for Dental Research (IADR/AADR) have published a paper titled "SSRIs and the Risk of Osseointegrated Implant Failure - A Cohort Study. [More]
New evidence puts into doubt the long-held depression belief

New evidence puts into doubt the long-held depression belief

New evidence puts into doubt the long-standing belief that a deficiency in serotonin - a chemical messenger in the brain - plays a central role in depression. In the journal ACS Chemical Neuroscience, scientists report that mice lacking the ability to make serotonin in their brains (and thus should have been "depressed" by conventional wisdom) did not show depression-like symptoms. [More]
Huntingtin protein plays critical role in long-term memory development

Huntingtin protein plays critical role in long-term memory development

It has been more than 20 years since scientists discovered that mutations in the gene huntingtin cause the devastating progressive neurological condition Huntington's disease, which involves involuntary movements, emotional disturbance and cognitive impairment. [More]
Subtle changes in gene can predict how brain reacts to stress

Subtle changes in gene can predict how brain reacts to stress

Scientists studying depression in teens have discovered that subtle changes in a gene can predict how the brain reacts to stress, which can cause such health issues as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and obesity. [More]
Epigenetic control of serotonin transporter predicts human brain function

Epigenetic control of serotonin transporter predicts human brain function

The tiny addition of a chemical mark atop a gene that is well known for its involvement in clinical depression and posttraumatic stress disorder can affect the way a person's brain responds to threats, according to a new study by Duke University researchers. [More]
Researchers uncover 3D structure of neuroreceptor

Researchers uncover 3D structure of neuroreceptor

Neurons are the cells of our brain, spinal cord, and overall nervous system. They form complex networks to communicate with each other through electrical signals that are carried by chemicals. [More]
Researchers find link between genetic makeup and nation's happiness

Researchers find link between genetic makeup and nation's happiness

Genetics could be the key to explaining nation's levels of happiness, according to research from the University of Warwick. [More]