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Advances in health and medicine.
Marjorie Bekaert Thomas
Advances in health and medicine.

This section will feature a weekly report which generated a lot of interest when it was first featured on the Medical Breakthroughs site. Come back weekly to read each highlight as we "Play It Again!"
Reported January 2015 Email a Friend

Antidepressants to Treat Alzheimer’s?

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (Ivanhoe Newswire) Every 67 seconds, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s disease.  Scientists aren’t sure what causes it, but there’s growing evidence that cognitive problems are linked to the development of brain plaques, abnormal buildups of protein.  Now, new research indicates that a commonly used antidepressant may reduce production of Alzheimer’s brain plaques.

Claire Anderson is an avid photographer. She focuses on nature, and portraits.

“There is that beauty of the face,” Clair Anderson told Ivanhoe, “It is lovely to capture.” 

With three kids and nine grandchildren, Claire has plenty of potential subjects. Faces she hopes time doesn’t erase.

“My parents both had the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s,” said Anderson. 

Now, Claire is also showing early signs of the disease.

Anderson explained, “I wanted to see that something could be found that could alter that.”

Researchers looking at the protein build-up in the Alzheimer’s brain have discovered a commonly prescribed drug may make an impact.

“We know that people with a history of antidepressant use have less plaque in the brain than people who don’t have a history of antidepressant use,“ explained John Cirrito, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Neurology specializing in Alzheimer’s disease at Washington University, St. Louis.

In the recent study, researchers gave a single dose of the antidepressant Citalopram to 23 adults under age 50. Samples of spinal fluids over the next 24 hours showed a 37% drop in the protein that forms brain plaques.

“This is promising,” said Dr. Cirrito, “but it’s early.”

Claire knows that a cure for Alzheimer’s may not come quickly, but it’s crucial to her nonetheless.


“I can be optimistic that my grandchildren will benefit from these studies,” Anderson said.

Cirrito says while most patients tolerate antidepressants well, the risks outweigh the benefits of using the drugs until a strong connection is established. He says that will take additional research. Researchers plan to study older adults and treat them for two weeks with the antidepressants to see if there is continued reduction in the proteins that cause brain plaque.

Contributors to this news report include:  Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer/Field Producer; Kim Coley, News Assistant; Jamie Koczan, Videographer/Editor.


More Information

Click here for additional research on Antidepressants to Treat Alzheimer's.

Click here for Ivanhoe's full-length interview with Dr. John Cirrito.

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas,    

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