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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.
Tendency to feel lonely linked partially to genetic traits

Tendency to feel lonely linked partially to genetic traits

Loneliness is linked to poor physical and mental health, and is an even more accurate predictor of early death than obesity. [More]
High occupational levels may be risk factor for poor response to depression treatment

High occupational levels may be risk factor for poor response to depression treatment

An international study has found that having a high status job means that you are less likely to respond to standard treatment with medications for depression. [More]
Mice study explains why antidepressants don't work in some patients

Mice study explains why antidepressants don't work in some patients

SSRI antidepressants (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, the best known being Prozactm) are amongst the most commonly taken medicines. [More]
Study provides insight into how weight-loss drug acts in the brain

Study provides insight into how weight-loss drug acts in the brain

A weight-loss drug dampened the response to food cues in regions of the brain associated with attention and emotion, leading to decreases in caloric intake, weight and body mass index (BMI), a team led by scientists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center reported. [More]
Beta-blockers can help treat bone loss caused by antidepressants in mice

Beta-blockers can help treat bone loss caused by antidepressants in mice

The antidepressant fluoxetine causes bone loss by instructing the brain to send out signals that increase bone breakdown, but a beta-blocker can intercept the signals, a new study in mice has found. [More]
SAGA funding initiative aims to advance understanding of potential sex differences in Alzheimer's

SAGA funding initiative aims to advance understanding of potential sex differences in Alzheimer's

The first-ever Alzheimer's Association Sex and Gender in Alzheimer's research grant awards will provide $2.2 million to nine projects to advance understanding of the disproportionate effect of Alzheimer's disease on women. [More]
SSRI treatment improves cognitive and social functioning in young children with fragile X

SSRI treatment improves cognitive and social functioning in young children with fragile X

Treatment with sertraline may provide nominal but important improvements in cognition and social participation in very young children with fragile X syndrome, the most common genetic cause of intellectual disability and the leading single-gene cause of autism, a study by researchers with the UC Davis MIND Institute has found. [More]
UNC researchers map anxiety circuit in the brain that may explain side effects of antidepressants

UNC researchers map anxiety circuit in the brain that may explain side effects of antidepressants

More than 100 million people worldwide take selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as Prozac and Zoloft, to treat depression, anxiety and related conditions, but these drugs have a common and mysterious side effect: they can worsen anxiety in the first few weeks of use, which leads many patients to stop treatment. [More]
New research discovers how opposite-sex hormonal therapy influences the brain

New research discovers how opposite-sex hormonal therapy influences the brain

Women and men often show marked differences as regards mental illnesses. In order to learn more about this phenomenon, a project supported by the Austrian Science Fund FWF explored how opposite-sex hormonal therapy applied to transgender individuals influences the brain. [More]
Swimming can be effective option for treating patients with fibromyalgia pain

Swimming can be effective option for treating patients with fibromyalgia pain

A study performed by researchers at the Federal University of São Paulo shows swimming is as effective as walking to relieve pain and improve quality of life for patients with fibromyalgia. [More]
Gene mutation linked to impulsive drunken behaviour shields bearers from obesity, insulin resistance

Gene mutation linked to impulsive drunken behaviour shields bearers from obesity, insulin resistance

University of Helsinki researchers have previously demonstrated that a point mutation in a gene of serotonin 2B receptor can render the carrier prone to impulsive behaviour, particularly when drunk. [More]
Activation of specific neural circuit can inhibit binge-like eating behavior in mice

Activation of specific neural circuit can inhibit binge-like eating behavior in mice

While binge eating affects about 10 percent of adults in the United States, the neurobiological basis of the disease is unclear. [More]
Scientists develop interactive model to fast-track research and treatment of schizophrenia

Scientists develop interactive model to fast-track research and treatment of schizophrenia

It's called mental imbalance for a reason. Sanity hangs, in part, in the gentle balance of chemicals strung together within regions of the brain in an intricate matrix. [More]
Scientists use new non-invasive PET scanning method to monitor hippocampal neurogenesis

Scientists use new non-invasive PET scanning method to monitor hippocampal neurogenesis

Scientists from the RIKEN Center for Life Science Technology in Japan have used a new non-invasive PET scanning technique to obtain images of neuron proliferation in the subventricular zone and subgranular zone of the hippocampal dentate gyrus. Neurogenesis in the hippocampal dentate gyrus is known to be particularly affected by depression. [More]
Overcoming gene silencing barriers to target neurological conditions: an interview with Dr Errol de Souza

Overcoming gene silencing barriers to target neurological conditions: an interview with Dr Errol de Souza

Many gene mutations that cause neurological disorders have been identified. For example, in a rare neurological disorder such as Huntington’s disease, an autosomal dominant mutation through expansion of CAG (cytosine-adenine-guanine) triplet repeats in the gene coding for the Huntingtin protein results in abnormal protein production. [More]
Researchers identify reason why antidepressants take so long to work

Researchers identify reason why antidepressants take so long to work

An episode of major depression can be crippling, impairing the ability to sleep, work, or eat. In severe cases, the mood disorder can lead to suicide. But the drugs available to treat depression, which can affect one in six Americans in their lifetime, can take weeks or even months to start working. [More]
New research elucidates details about architecture of synaptic transmission

New research elucidates details about architecture of synaptic transmission

For more than a century, neuroscientists have known that nerve cells talk to one another across the small gaps between them, a process known as synaptic transmission. [More]
Scientists receive grant to examine brain mechanisms underlying social stress in males and females

Scientists receive grant to examine brain mechanisms underlying social stress in males and females

The Center for Behavioral Neuroscience at Georgia State University has received a five-year, $3.2 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health to investigate the neurochemical mechanisms underlying social stress in males and females. [More]
Study examines link between craving and glutamate levels in the brain of patients with AUDs

Study examines link between craving and glutamate levels in the brain of patients with AUDs

Craving consists of cognitive, emotional, and behavioral elements related to a desire to drink alcohol, and can be experienced during intoxication, withdrawal, and/or prior to relapse. [More]
Scientists reveal how manipulating novel target in the brain could lead to new therapies for depression

Scientists reveal how manipulating novel target in the brain could lead to new therapies for depression

Northwestern Medicine scientists have shown how manipulating a novel target in the brain using gene therapy could lead to new treatments for depression. [More]
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