Los Angeles Times
MELISSA HEALY May 14, 2004
Might antidepressants help prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease?
Celexa is an antidepressant med just reported to significantly and rapidly reduce the production and spinal fluid levels of a protein called beta-amyloid which clumps together in plaques found in the brains of those with Alzheimer’s. Further research will determine if this treatment could become a relatively simple, cheap and potentially powerful way to prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s when taken by those at greatest risk of developing this devastating dementia.
According to Dr. Harold Levinson, the reduction or prevention of these sticky plaques thought to short-circuit the brain’s wiring may not help Alzheimer’s in humans. Contrary to similar optimistic expectations, prior drugs designed to reduce plaques in humans have not significantly lessened dementia symptoms. These data suggest the Alzheimer cause may have other mechanisms.
Although the present findings are important, these antidepressant meds have shown plaque reduction only in older mice bred to develop an animal version of Alzheimer’s disease. And they have also decreased spinal fluid levels of this plaque forming protein in normal adults. Hopefully, future research utilizing these fascinating findings will enable testing the plaque hypothesis of Alzheimer’s while leading to new help for this devastating disorder. It would now be easy to treat patients with Alzheimer’s and determine if their cognition improves and/or the deterioration of their disorder slows.
About Harold Levinson, M.D.
Formerly Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at New York University Medical Center, Dr. Harold Levinson is currently Director of the Levinson Medical Center for Learning Disabilities in Long Island, New York. He is a well-known neuropsychiatrist, clinical researcher and author. For more information, call 1(800)334-7323 or visit: http://www.dyslexiaonline.com
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