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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.
Johns Hopkins researchers develop new strategies to treat depression in children, adolescents

Johns Hopkins researchers develop new strategies to treat depression in children, adolescents

A multidisciplinary team of Johns Hopkins researchers has developed two new strategies to treat depression in young people using the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) class of medications. These strategies, published May 5 in the journal Translational Psychiatry, incorporate a new understanding of how to mitigate the risk of suicide while on SSRI treatment. [More]
Researchers describe natural mechanism that helps repair lesions in teeth

Researchers describe natural mechanism that helps repair lesions in teeth

Researchers at Inserm and Paris Descartes University have just taken an important step in research on stem cells and dental repair. They have managed to isolate dental stem cell lines and to describe the natural mechanism by which they repair lesions in the teeth. This fundamental discovery will make it possible to initiate unprecedented therapeutic strategies to mobilise the resident dental stem cells and magnify their natural capacity for repair. [More]
Prenatal antidepressant exposure increases anxiety symptoms

Prenatal antidepressant exposure increases anxiety symptoms

Three-year-old siblings exposed to antidepressants in pregnancy show increased anxiety symptoms compared to their unexposed siblings. [More]
Bionomics begins BNC210 Phase II clinical trial for treatment of anxiety, depression

Bionomics begins BNC210 Phase II clinical trial for treatment of anxiety, depression

Bionomics Limited, a biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of innovative therapeutics for the treatment of cancer and diseases of the central nervous system, today announced the initiation of a Phase II clinical study of BNC210, the Company's drug candidate in development for the treatment of anxiety and depression. [More]
Eisai, Arena complete two Phase 1 registrational trials for once-daily formulation of lorcaserin

Eisai, Arena complete two Phase 1 registrational trials for once-daily formulation of lorcaserin

Eisai Inc. and Arena Pharmaceuticals, Inc. today announced the completion of two Phase 1 registrational clinical trials that Eisai and Arena believe demonstrate bioequivalence of an investigational once-daily extended release formulation of lorcaserin, as compared to the twice-daily immediate release formulation approved by the US Food and Drug Administration and marketed as BELVIQ. [More]
Blueberries may be effective in treatment for PTSD

Blueberries may be effective in treatment for PTSD

Up to 8 percent of people in the U.S. suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as the result of witnessing or being the victim of a traumatic event. People with PTSD have been in a situation in which they were at risk of death, serious injury or sexual violence or have seen first-hand loved ones faces such threats. They may experience flashbacks, emotional detachment and jumpiness, among other symptoms that affect their ability to function in everyday life. [More]
Early response plus genetic variants strengthen antidepressant outcome prediction

Early response plus genetic variants strengthen antidepressant outcome prediction

Considering genetic variants in combination with early partial improvement could be useful for predicting antidepressant outcome, say researchers. [More]
Study investigates effects of antidepressant treatment in pain catastrophizing patients

Study investigates effects of antidepressant treatment in pain catastrophizing patients

A select population of patients having surgery experience what is called pain catastrophizing - an irrational thought process that leads a patient to perceive pain as worse than it actually is. Antidepressant medications reduce negative mood and might change this way of thinking, but according to a study published in the April edition of Anesthesiology, the official medical journal of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, that may not be the case, at least for acute pain. [More]
Use of psychedelic drugs linked to less psychological distress, fewer suicidal thoughts

Use of psychedelic drugs linked to less psychological distress, fewer suicidal thoughts

A history of psychedelic drug use is associated with less psychological distress and fewer suicidal thoughts, planning and attempts, according to new research from Johns Hopkins and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. [More]
GeneSight test better predicts antidepressant outcomes for patients with depression

GeneSight test better predicts antidepressant outcomes for patients with depression

The combinatorial, multi-gene GeneSight test has been found to better predict antidepressant treatment outcomes for patients with depression, and their use of health care resources, than any of the individual genes that comprise the test, according to a peer-reviewed analysis by investigators from the Mayo Clinic and Assurex Health, and published online by The Pharmacogenomics Journal. [More]
Lexicon updates drug development progress, reports 2014 financial results

Lexicon updates drug development progress, reports 2014 financial results

Lexicon Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing breakthrough treatments for human disease, today updated its drug development progress and reported financial results for the three months and year ended December 31, 2014. [More]
Common antidepressant medications not helpful for people with mood, anxiety disorders

Common antidepressant medications not helpful for people with mood, anxiety disorders

Studies indicate that the majority of people with mood and anxiety disorders who receive the most commonly prescribed class of antidepressant medications, Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors or SSRI's, are not helped by these medications. SSRIs are designed to increase serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain that is key to maintenance of mood. [More]
Anticholinergic medications associated with pneumonia risk in older people

Anticholinergic medications associated with pneumonia risk in older people

Taking commonly used medications with anticholinergic effects is associated with a significantly higher risk for developing pneumonia in a study of more than 3,000 older Group Health patients living in the community--not in nursing homes. [More]
Vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids may optimize brain serotonin concentrations and function

Vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids may optimize brain serotonin concentrations and function

Although essential marine omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D have been shown to improve cognitive function and behavior in the context of certain brain disorders, the underlying mechanism has been unclear. In a new paper published in FASEB Journal by Rhonda Patrick, PhD and Bruce Ames, PhD of Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute, serotonin is explained as the possible missing link tying together why vitamin D and marine omega-3 fatty acids might ameliorate the symptoms associated with a broad array of brain disorders. [More]
Study explores association between back pain and depression

Study explores association between back pain and depression

Genetic factors help to explain the commonly found association between low back pain and depression, suggests a large study of twins in the March issue of PAIN, the official publication of the International Association for the Study of Pain. The journal is published by Wolters Kluwer. [More]
Nicotine metabolite supports learning, memory by amplifying action of primary chemical messenger

Nicotine metabolite supports learning, memory by amplifying action of primary chemical messenger

Nicotine's primary metabolite supports learning and memory by amplifying the action of a primary chemical messenger involved in both, researchers report. [More]
Researchers close to novel therapy to treat levodopa-induced dyskinesia

Researchers close to novel therapy to treat levodopa-induced dyskinesia

Involuntary dyskinetic movements induced by treatment with levodopa (L-dopa) are a common problem for people with Parkinson's disease. Now, however, researchers at Karolinska Institutet and Lund University in Sweden seem to be close to a novel therapy to this distressing side effect. [More]
Psychedelic drug prevents allergic asthma in mouse model

Psychedelic drug prevents allergic asthma in mouse model

Research led by Charles Nichols, PhD, Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics at the LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, has found that a psychedelic drug, (R)-DOI, prevents the development of allergic asthma in a mouse model. [More]

Mice genetically deficient in serotonin are more vulnerable to social stressors

Mice genetically deficient in serotonin -- a crucial brain chemical implicated in clinical depression -- are more vulnerable than their normal littermates to social stressors, according to a Duke study appearing this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. [More]
Ildong Pharmaceutical to market BELVIQ (lorcaserin HCl) for weight management in South Korea

Ildong Pharmaceutical to market BELVIQ (lorcaserin HCl) for weight management in South Korea

Arena Pharmaceuticals, Inc. today announced that Ildong Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., has informed Arena that the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety has approved BELVIQ (lorcaserin HCl) for marketing for weight management in South Korea. Ildong will market and distribute BELVIQ in South Korea under its marketing and supply agreement with Arena's wholly owned subsidiary, Arena Pharmaceuticals GmbH, or Arena GmbH. [More]
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