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2016 Grants - Reddy
Protective Effects of SSRI Against Alzheimer’s Disease
Arubala Reddy, Ph.D.
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
2016 New Investigator Research Grant
Could some antidepressant drugs be useful for treating Alzheimer’s disease?
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are a class of drugs widely used to treat depression. Depression becomes more common as people age, and is also common in people with Alzheimer’s disease. There is evidence that SSRI treatment can reduce levels of beta-amyloid in the brain. Beta-amyloid is a protein fragment at the focus of research into the causes of Alzheimer’s disease. It can accumulate into plaques and is believed to have toxic effects on nerve cells. If SSRI treatment reduces beta-amyloid levels in the brain, it suggests that SSRIs may have beneficial effects as potential treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.
Arubala Reddy, Ph.D., and colleagues have proposed a series of experiments to test the effects of SSRIs on the Alzheimer’s disease process. The researchers will use nerve cells growing in laboratory dishes to study if SSRIs can protect the cells from the toxic effects of beta-amyloid. Dr. Reddy’s team will also treat Alzheimer’s-like mice with an SSRI for six months and determine if it helps prevent the development of Alzheimer’s-like brain changes and abnormal behaviors.
These studies may shed new light on the molecular mechanisms underlying the protective effects of SSRIs on brain function. If successful, the results of this work could lead to future studies in humans to determine if SSRIs may serve as potential treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.