Researchers Designed a New Fast-Acting Antidepressant
Last Week in Medicine
Medications prescribed for many mental disorders, such as major depression, are often associated with serotonin. For example, Prozac, which is frequently used for this purpose, uses the active substance called fluoxetine and shows its effects by preventing the reuptake of serotonin. This group of drugs is called SRIs for short.
SRIs require at least 2 weeks to take effect. While no effects on depression are observed within 2 weeks after taking the drug, on the contrary, side effects of the drug occur first.
That’s why fast-acting antidepressants are gaining importance. In a new study published in the journal Science, Sun et al. have identified a new fast-acting antidepressant mechanism by disrupting the relationship between the serotonin transporter (SERT) and neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS).
nNOS controls SERT localization at the cell surface. Depending on this localization, the concentration of serotonin in the cell varies. The researchers thought that by disrupting this interaction between SERT and nNOS, they could increase the circulating serotonin concentration.
To test this, in their study on mice, they applied chronic unpredictable mild stress and saw that the SERT-nNOS complex was elevated. They produced a peptide that would disrupt this relationship between SERT and nNOS, and when they injected it, they found that the serotonin signal increased and a fast-acting antidepressant effect developed. Moreover, they found that the side effects of other antidepressants did not develop as a result of this injection.
Sun et al. say that this compound could be a new, fast-acting antidepressant with a low side-effect profile that could be used for diseases such as major depression.