This article focuses on SSRI’s and the potential risk they pose on motor neurons. The two major drugs that were studied are Fluoxetine (Prozac) and Paraxetine (Paxil). Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, better know as SSRI’s, treat people with depression by preventing a cell from reuptaking the extra serotonin in the synaptic cleft. This results in the post synaptic neuron receiving a larger amount of serotonin, and in theory causing a patient to feel happier. Because Prozac and Paxil are some of the most widely proscribed SSRI’s in world there has been a lot of attention paid to there effectiveness as well as any possibly harmful side effects. Recent studies have shown some startling new side effects including: muscle twitches and tardive dyskenesia, both signs of neuronal (especially motor) damage. In addition, studies have shown that these antidepressants affect the development of some sensory pathways, specifically the projection of thalamocortical fibers. Furthermore, SSRI usage has been shown to induce cell death in a hippocampal cell line. This article looked to discover more detail about the causation as well as how these drugs damage otherwise healthy brain cells and pathways. Researchers at the University of Alabama grew and maintained one type of cell known as a NSC34 cell. These motor neurons were derived from a mouse spinal cord and fused with spinal neroublastoma cells, ending up with a grouping of cells that have many characteristics of a human motor neuron. They separated the cells into four groups, identical in composition and size (relatively). Then, Prozac, Paxil and alchohol were administered, along with a control group. The researchers waited 24 hours before looking at the groups of cells again. As they observed the cells they noticed profound toxicity, especially in the area where the drug was initially administered. Interestingly, Paxil proved to be worse in just about every category measured. The Paxil dish showed the highest percentage of cell death along with the lowest number of neuronal outgrowth. These results are astounding but researchers need to study the SSRI’s in more depth before they can grasp a firm understanding of exactly how these drugs cause such chaos in the neural circuitry of humans, as well as mice.
In my opinion this article was very intriguing and had many interesting aspects. I also found the previous studies the article mentioned, as well as the research conducted by University of Alabama scientists startling. The results are shocking due to the immense amount of people who use SSRI’s, myself included. Its kind of scary to realize these drugs aren’t perfect and that scientists don’t have an absolute understanding of what they will and will not due. This also leads to a realization that any drug for that matter can cause harmful side affects that are basically unknown. The article gives a specific amount of drug that was administered to each sample of cells but I’m not sure how that amount relates to the daily dose taken by someone who uses an SSRI. Also, I found it odd that the researchers only waited 24 hours before examining the cells for damage. Overall I liked this article, especially because I can relate directly to it.