A new study reports the antidepressant fluoxetine, commonly called Prozac, Sarafem, or Fontex, is associated with the development of new nerve cells in the adult brain.
Researchers had previously determined that progeny nerve cells exist at the surface of the adult cortex and that a lack of blood, or ischemia, enhances the generation of new inhibitory neurons from these neural progenitor cells.
These cells were accordingly named “Layer 1 Inhibitory Neuron Progenitor cells” (L1-INP).
However, until now it was not known whether L1-INP-related neurogenesis could be induced in the normal adult cortex.
Researchers used fluoxetine, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor and one of the most widely used antidepressants, to stimulate the production of new neurons from L1-INP cells.
Investigators determined a large percentage of these newly generated neurons were inhibitory GABAergic interneurons, and their generation coincided with a reduction in cell death following ischemia.
Researchers believe the finding shows that fluoxetine has a neuroprotective response and that the purposeful creation of new nerve cells in the brain is prevention/treatment option for neurodegenerative diseases and psychiatric disorders.
The study is published online in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.