Tsuyoshi Miyakawa, Koji Ohira, and their colleagues at the Institute for Comprehensive Medical Science, Fujita Health University are the first to report that neurogenesis (birth and rebirth of brain cells) is a result of the use of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) fluoxetine in the January 2013 issue of Neuropsychopharmacology. The research was reviewed at the Eureka Alert website of January 4, 2013.
The scientists had previously demonstrated that neural progenitor cells exist at the surface of the adult cortex and that lowered blood supply (ischemia) enhances the generation of new inhibitory neurons from these neural progenitor cells. These cells were accordingly named "Layer 1 Inhibitory Neuron Progenitor cells" (L1-INP).
The scientists used fluoxetine, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, and one of the most widely used antidepressants, to stimulate the production of new neurons from L1-INP cells. A large percentage of these newly generated neurons were inhibitory GABAergic interneurons, and their generation coincided with a reduction in apoptotic cell death following ischemia.
The results promise a new option for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases and psychiatric disorders with a drug that is already FDA approved. This includes a potential for Alzheimer's control and the regrowth of cells lost in dementia and Alzheimer's.
The number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer's in Alabama grew by 8 percent in 2010 and is expected to increase by 31 percent by 2025 according to the Alzheimer's Association.
This is the first demonstration that a SSRI can produce brain cell development.