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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.
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]
MOOD-HF supports lack of antidepressant efficacy in HF patients

MOOD-HF supports lack of antidepressant efficacy in HF patients

Escitalopram influences neither depressive symptoms nor medical outcomes when compared with placebo in patients with heart failure and depression, show the MOOD-HF findings. [More]
Mayo Clinic highlights potential merits of individualizing treatment for patients taking antidepressants

Mayo Clinic highlights potential merits of individualizing treatment for patients taking antidepressants

Mayo Clinic is highlighting the potential merits of using precision medicine in prescribing antidepressants. Details appear in the current issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings. [More]
Maternal SRI treatment may cause microscopic changes in fetal brain structure

Maternal SRI treatment may cause microscopic changes in fetal brain structure

A new Finnish study shows that fetal exposure to commonly used SRI drugs may affect brain activity in newborns. The researchers suggest that the effects of drugs on fetal brain function should be assessed more carefully. [More]
Prenatal mild viral assault may cause central nervous system malfunctions in children

Prenatal mild viral assault may cause central nervous system malfunctions in children

Babies born to mothers whose immune systems had to grapple with a viral assault -- even a mild one -- have increased risk of brain and central nervous system abnormalities, according to a new study. [More]
New understanding of neurotransmitter transporter mechanism gives hope for treating depression, addicition

New understanding of neurotransmitter transporter mechanism gives hope for treating depression, addicition

When nerve cells have to communicate with each other in our brains, it involves release of small signal molecules, the so-called neurotransmitters, which act as chemical messengers in specific points of contact between nerve cells, called synapses. [More]
Researchers find new clue to understanding 'chemo brain' in cancer patients

Researchers find new clue to understanding 'chemo brain' in cancer patients

During and after chemotherapy, many cancer patients describe feeling a mental fog, a condition that has been dubbed "chemo brain." Why this happens is unclear, but researchers have found a new clue to understanding this syndrome. [More]
Depressive symptoms may affect fertility of women

Depressive symptoms may affect fertility of women

Women with severe depressive symptoms have a decreased chance of becoming pregnant, while the use of psychotropic medications does not appear to harm fertility, a study by researchers from the Boston University Schools of Public Health and Medicine shows. [More]
Understanding potential of illicit drug ketamine in treating depression

Understanding potential of illicit drug ketamine in treating depression

Advancing the understanding and treatment of psychiatric disorders is a principal goal of neuroscientists. As mental disorders are the leading cause of disabilities worldwide, it is concerning that there are few effective therapeutics on the market due to the lack of knowledge regarding pathophysiology. [More]
Prenatal exposure to SSRIs linked to lower birth weight, gestational length

Prenatal exposure to SSRIs linked to lower birth weight, gestational length

A new study, published today in the International Journal of Epidemiology, has found that prenatal exposure to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) has a significant association with lower birth weight and gestational length. [More]
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