Take Antidepressants? You May Never Get Alzheimer's

Antidepressants have helped millions feel better about their lives.  And now they may play an even bigger role in making us feel good.  They may prevent Alzheimer's.

A new study has found that a commonly prescribed antidepressant can reduce production of the main ingredient in Alzheimer’s brain plaques, according to new research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the University of Pennsylvania.

Stopping plaque buildup may halt the disastrous mental decline caused by the disorder.

Newswise.com reports that this research supports preliminary mouse studies that evaluated a variety of antidepressants.

The scientists found that the antidepressant citalopram (or Celexa) stopped the growth of plaques in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease. And in young adults who were cognitively healthy, a single dose of the antidepressant lowered by 37 percent the production of amyloid beta, the primary ingredient in plaques.
"Although the findings are encouraging, the scientists caution that it would be premature for people to take antidepressants solely to slow the development of Alzheimer’s disease," the Web site notes.
“Antidepressants appear to be significantly reducing amyloid beta production, and that’s exciting,” said senior author John Cirrito, PhD, assistant professor of neurology at Washington University, at newswise.com. “But while antidepressants generally are well tolerated, they have risks and side effects. Until we can more definitively prove that these drugs help slow or stop Alzheimer’s in humans, the risks aren’t worth it. There is still much more work to do.”
Other antidepressants may have similar effects. Earlier research showed that serotonin, a chemical messenger in the brain, reduces amyloid beta production. Other scientists have also linked treatment with antidepressants to reduced plaque levels in cognitively healthy individuals.
Most antidepressants keep serotonin circulating in the brain, so this caused researchers to wonder whether the drugs block the increase of amyloid beta levels and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s.
In 2011, the researchers tested several antidepressants in young mice genetically altered to develop Alzheimer’s disease as they aged. In these mice, which had not yet developed brain plaques, antidepressants reduced amyloid beta production by an average of 25 percent after 24 hours.
So, should we all rush out and take antidepressants?  No, say experts.  But it's comforting to know that, after all these years of disappointing and heart-breaking studies that revealed there's no cure for this dreaded disease, there may actually be.

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