Antidepressants can help treat Alzheimer disease

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 60, No. 10, December 2018, Page 509 News

Scientists at the University of Waterloo have discovered that antidepressant medications can be used to treat Alzheimer disease. A study published in ACS Chemical Neuroscience, “Interactions of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors with β‑amyloid,” found that selective serotonin uptake inhibitors (SSRI medication) can delay the development and growth of amyloid-beta proteins, which can clump together and form a plaque, contributing to disease symptoms. These plaques block cell-to-cell signals, resulting in delayed cognitive function. As the plaques grow, the brain’s ability to make connections and send and receive information becomes further impaired.
There are currently over 500 000 Canadians living with dementia, and no drugs on the market that offer a cure. Approximately 50% of people diagnosed with Alzheimer disease also have depression. Researchers believe knowledge from this study can one day inform how health care providers approach treatment in patients with both depression and Alzheimer disease, perhaps leading to the use of SSRIs as an early intervention for people who have a family history of dementia. The chemical structure of SSRIs presents a type of blueprint for how to develop a medication that will prevent amyloid-beta aggregation. The study is available at

. Antidepressants can help treat Alzheimer disease. BCMJ, Vol. 60, No. 10, December, 2018, Page(s) 509 - News.

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