Depiction of a neurotransmitter.
New research showing that the neurotransmitter serotonin uses a special pathway to regulate biological functions could greatly affect future therapies for disorders such as depression and schizophrenia.
The Scripps Research Institute study published in the October 6, 2010 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience contends serotonin has significant influence over control of perception, cognition, sleep, appetite, pain, and mood.
"Our study shows that while both serotonin and hallucinogens act at the serotonin 2A receptor, serotonin utilizes a very specific pathway and its actions are independent of those produced by hallucinogens," says Laura Bohn, an associate professor on the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute. "Future drug discovery efforts to identify lead compounds for treatment of depression may consider focusing upon those that only engage that pathway. This work may also lend insight into the mechanisms that underlie the hallucinations that occur in schizophrenia."
This may be particularly important for the treatment of depression because traditional therapies ~ focusing on elevating serotonin levels ~ can sometimes produce serious side effects such as hallucinations, and is especially serious when antidepressants are mixed with monoamine oxidase inhibitors.
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