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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.
Antidepressant initiation more frequent among people with Alzheimer's disease even before diagnosis

Antidepressant initiation more frequent among people with Alzheimer's disease even before diagnosis

Antidepressants are frequently initiated in persons with Alzheimer's disease already before the diagnosis, shows a recent study from the University of Eastern Finland. Among persons with Alzheimer's disease, the initiation of antidepressant use was most common during the six months after the Alzheimer's diagnosis, and more frequent than among comparison persons without Alzheimer's disease even 4 years after the diagnosis. The results were published in International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. [More]
CAMH, Impel NeuroPharma partner to advance novel treatment to alleviate depression

CAMH, Impel NeuroPharma partner to advance novel treatment to alleviate depression

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and Impel NeuroPharma have signed a licensing agreement to advance a new neuropeptide-based therapeutic approach shown to be effective in treating depression. [More]
Discovery could lead to better therapies for people with obsessive compulsive disorder

Discovery could lead to better therapies for people with obsessive compulsive disorder

Research led by investigators in veterinary and human medicine has identified genetic pathways that exacerbate severity of canine compulsive disorder in Doberman pinschers, a discovery that could lead to better therapies for obsessive compulsive disorder in people. [More]
New imaging study shows how exercise affects the brain

New imaging study shows how exercise affects the brain

People who exercise have better mental fitness, and a new imaging study from UC Davis Health System shows why. Intense exercise increases levels of two common neurotransmitters -- glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA -- that are responsible for chemical messaging within the brain. [More]
Antidepressant paroxetine suppresses inflammation in people with HIV-related cognitive impairment

Antidepressant paroxetine suppresses inflammation in people with HIV-related cognitive impairment

In a small, placebo-controlled clinical trial, Johns Hopkins physicians report that the antidepressant paroxetine modestly improves decision-making and reaction time, and suppresses inflammation in people with HIV-associated cognitive impairment. The researchers say they believe this is the first time that a SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) has been shown to improve key measures of cognition in people with HIV in a controlled study. [More]
Study: Migraine, tension-type headaches may share genetic links with IBS

Study: Migraine, tension-type headaches may share genetic links with IBS

Migraine and tension-type headaches may share genetic links with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), according to a preliminary study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 68th Annual Meeting in Vancouver, Canada, April 15 to 21, 2016. [More]
Modulation of opioid system may improve effectiveness of drugs for treatment-resistant depression

Modulation of opioid system may improve effectiveness of drugs for treatment-resistant depression

A clinical trial of an experimental drug for treatment-resistant major depression finds that modulation of the endogenous opioid system may improve the effectiveness of drugs that target the action of serotonin and related monoamine neurotransmitters. [More]
Wayne State inks exclusive license agreement with TRImaran Pharma for novel class of drugs

Wayne State inks exclusive license agreement with TRImaran Pharma for novel class of drugs

Wayne State University recently entered into an exclusive license agreement with TRImaran Pharma Inc. for a class of novel drugs developed at Wayne State University that aims to offer hope in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD), depression, ADHD and other neurological disorders. [More]
Scientists explore how antidepressants affect fetuses during pregnancy

Scientists explore how antidepressants affect fetuses during pregnancy

Depression is a serious issue for expecting mothers. Left untreated, depression could have implications for a fetus's health. But treating the disease during pregnancy may carry health risks for the developing fetus, which makes an expecting mother's decision whether to take medication a very difficult one. [More]
Vanderbilt study offers a glimmer of hope to alcoholics suffering from depression

Vanderbilt study offers a glimmer of hope to alcoholics suffering from depression

A study by researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center is offering a glimmer of hope to alcoholics who find it hard to remain sober because their abstinence is hounded by stubborn, difficult-to-treat depression. [More]
Study provides better understanding of familial risk for depression

Study provides better understanding of familial risk for depression

Building on a 30-year, three-generation study of depressed individuals, their children and offspring, a study published in the journal Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging provides a better understanding of the familial risk for depression and the role neuroplasticity might have in increasing the risk of developing depression. [More]
Regular practice of Transcendental Meditation benefits active-duty service members

Regular practice of Transcendental Meditation benefits active-duty service members

Regular practice of Transcendental Meditation enables some active duty service members battling post-traumatic stress disorder to reduce or even eliminate their psychotropic medication and get better control of their often-debilitating symptoms, researchers report in the journal Military Medicine. [More]
Statins could be effective against metastatic small cell lung cancer

Statins could be effective against metastatic small cell lung cancer

In a recent study, researchers at Cancer Treatment Centers of America at Western Regional Medical Center (Western), in collaboration with international colleagues, found that statins could be an effective therapeutic against metastatic small cell lung cancer (SCLC). [More]
Using antidepressant drug during first trimester of pregnancy may increase risk of birth defects

Using antidepressant drug during first trimester of pregnancy may increase risk of birth defects

Using paroxetine--a medication prescribed to treat conditions including depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety and posttraumatic stress disorder--during the first trimester of pregnancy may increase newborns' risk of congenital malformations and cardiac malformations. That's the conclusion of a recent analysis published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. [More]
New drug approved by FDA for treatment of von Willebrand disease

New drug approved by FDA for treatment of von Willebrand disease

"VONVENDI [von Willebrand factor (Recombinant)]", the new drug from Baxalta Incorporated, a global biopharmaceutical company recently spun off from Baxter International, has just been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration. [More]
Enteric nerves of irritable bowel syndrome patients respond poorly to inflammatory substances

Enteric nerves of irritable bowel syndrome patients respond poorly to inflammatory substances

For the first time, biopsies of patients with irritable bowel syndrome have shown that the nerves in their gut wall respond poorly to a cocktail of inflammatory substances. This refutes the previous theory that patients with irritable bowel syndrome have an overly sensitive gut. [More]
UW-Madison scientist creates serotonin neurons from stem cells

UW-Madison scientist creates serotonin neurons from stem cells

Su-Chun Zhang, a pioneer in developing neurons from stem cells at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has created a specialized nerve cell that makes serotonin, a signaling chemical with a broad role in the brain. [More]
Using antidepressants during pregnancy greatly increases autism risk

Using antidepressants during pregnancy greatly increases autism risk

Using antidepressants during pregnancy greatly increases the risk of autism, Professor Anick Bérard of the University of Montreal and its affiliated CHU Sainte-Justine children's hospital revealed today. Prof. Bérard, an internationally renowned expert in the fields of pharmaceutical safety during pregnancy, came to her conclusions after reviewing data covering 145,456 pregnancies. [More]
LSD reduces connectivity within human brain networks

LSD reduces connectivity within human brain networks

LSD is known to cause changes in consciousness, including "ego-dissolution", or a loss of the sense of self. Despite a detailed knowledge of the action of LSD at specific serotonin receptors, it has not been understood how this these pharmacological effects can translate into such a profound effect on consciousness. [More]
New drug therapies that target glutamate pathway may be effective for subgroups of patient with schizophrenia

New drug therapies that target glutamate pathway may be effective for subgroups of patient with schizophrenia

Mounting evidence indicates that disturbances in the brain's glutamate pathway contribute to symptoms of schizophrenia. Thus, the glutamate pathway has become the target of a number of new drug therapies. Findings published in the journal Biological Psychiatry suggest that at least one of these drugs may be an effective treatment for individuals in the early course of the illness. [More]
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