Posted by Deborah Pujoue on April 30, 2012
While most of us know what an antidepressant medication is, one thing that stands out in my mind is that most of us have no clue just how these drugs work. This is particularly true with SSRI antidepressants like Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft. That may be changing as a new Princeton study conducted on Zoloft is now providing some insight into how the drug really works. This study appears in PLoS ONE.
The study delved into the inner workings of Zoloft and how it works on yeast cells. The study results are showing that depression is not linked to the neurotransmitter serotonin alone. This is significant since SSRIs are created with the thought that it does. This study focused on how Zoloft accumulated in the membranes of yeast cells. The accumulation of the Zoloft happened in between the two lipid layers that create the cellular membrane. This causes a sharp curving of the internal membrane as well as swelling to occur. Why is this important? It is important because there are no yeast cells in serotonin.
Since SSRI medications help to regulate the serotonin in the brain, it has become a wonder as to just how those meds work when interacting with the brain cells. Now, Dr. Ethan Perlstein, Ph.D, and his co-authors believe they have discovered real proof that antidepressants might do more than just regulate serotonin.
“The serotonin transporter is one site where these drugs interact, but we show that’s not all they do,” Perlstein says. “These drugs have multiple effects on various targets in the cell — and one of the targets might be specific membranes themselves.”
All of this basically means that Perlstein and his colleagues found that Zoloft’s activity where there is no serotonin present helps to support previous research that claims that depression may be linked to lower secretions of brain-deprived neurotrophic factor, which is a protein that can be found in the brain. Drugs like Zoloft do not just offer a treatment option for depression, these drugs also pose a high risk of patients suffering from serious side effects. Birth defects are high on the list of dangers these drugs pose. Some of those birth defects include PPHN, oral clefts, cleft palate and neural tube defects. If you are thinking about taking antidepressants like Zoloft while pregnant, you may want to consider an option that is less dangerous for your baby.