How Prozac Stimulates Neurogenesis
New Scientist brings word of new research into how Prozac stimulates the preduction of new neurons:
So the team engineered mice with nuclei in their nerve cells that glow green during neurogenesis. This made it easy to count and compare the number of developing neurons. By tracking other factors associated with different stages of neurogenesis, Enikolopov’s team found that only one step was influenced by Prozac.
The drug did not promote neuron growth by stimulating stem cells, but rather by stimulating the division of cells just "downstream" of the stem cell, called amplifying neural progenitor cells, which have already committed to becoming neurons.
But what's really interesting is where the lab is going next:
Now the researchers are testing a range of treatments – from different drugs to deep brain stimulation – to see if they influence the same step in neuron development.
If these different treatments are all acting on the same step, that would provide a precise target for development of new therapies, Enikolopov says, and potential therapies could be screened more quickly.
But if different therapies target different steps in neurogenesis, that could make different treatments appropriate under different conditions, he suggests. For example, Parkinson's disease is associated with depression. Doctors may be better off treating such patients with an antidepressant drug that acts downstream of the step where Parkinson's attacks, in order for the treatment to have an effect.
In either case, Enikolopov asks: "How is the generation of new neurons translated into improved mood? That is the most critical and unanswered question."
Here's the article in question, courtesy PNAS.
That's all for now.