Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

How serotonin works: Findings point to new treatments for schizophrenia and depression

Date:
October 12, 2010
Source:
Scripps Research Institute
Summary:
Scientists have shown for the first time that the neurotransmitter serotonin uses a specialized signaling pathway to mediate biological functions that are distinct from the signaling pathways used by hallucinogenic substances. The new findings could have a profound effect on the development of new therapies for a number of disorders, including schizophrenia and depression.

Scripps Research Institute scientists have shown for the first time that the neurotransmitter serotonin uses a specialized signaling pathway to mediate biological functions that are distinct from the signaling pathways used by hallucinogenic substances. The new findings could have a profound effect on the development of new therapies for a number of disorders, including schizophrenia and depression.

The study was published in the October 6, 2010 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

Serotonin has tremendous influence over several brain functions, including the control of perception, cognition, sleep, appetite, pain, and mood and mediates these effects through interactions with receptors located throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems.

"Our study shows that while both serotonin and hallucinogens act at the serotonin 2A receptor, serotonin utilizes a very specific pathway and its actions are independent of those produced by hallucinogens," said Laura Bohn, an associate professor on the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute. "Future drug discovery efforts to identify lead compounds for treatment of depression may consider focusing upon those that only engage that pathway. This work may also lend insight into the mechanisms that underlie the hallucinations that occur in schizophrenia."

This may be particularly important, Bohn said, for the treatment of depression because traditional therapies, which focus on elevating serotonin levels, can sometimes produce serious side effects such as a serotonin syndrome. This syndrome is often accompanied by hallucinations, and is especially serious when antidepressant treatments such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are mixed with monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).

The scientists' current study supports a long-standing hypothesis that hallucinations may arise from the metabolites formed from elevated serotonin levels. Since there is a difference in the way the two neurotransmitters signal, this may represent a means to preserve the effects of serotonin while preventing the adverse side effects caused by the metabolites.

Serotonin Versus Hallucinogens

The study, coauthored by Cullen Schmid, a graduate student in the lab, showed that serotonin signals through the serotonin 2A receptor by recruiting a regulatory protein called β-arrestin2, and that the actions of serotonin at the receptor are far different than those produced by hallucinogenic N-methyltryptamines, a class of naturally occurring substances found in several plants and in minute amounts in the human body and which includes the abused drug, DMT. The study found that the N-methyltryptamines activate the serotonin 2A receptor independently of β-arrestin2.

Both serotonin and the N-methyltryptamines produce what is known as a head twitch response in animal models, which indicates that the serotonin 2A receptor has been activated. Any interruption in the exclusive serotonin pathway prevents that behavioral response to serotonin, but has no effect on N-methyltryptamine-induced head twitches, indicating a distinct divergence in the signaling pathways utilized by these two neurotransmitters.

"Despite the fact that they activate the same receptor, serotonin leads to the assembly of a number of proteins associated with the receptor that the metabolites of serotonin do not produce," Bohn said. "But whether the lack of this complex formation is why compounds like DMT lead to hallucinations is not clear."

Bohn continues to investigate these and other questions.

In addition to Bohn, the study, "Serotonin, But Not N-Methyltryptamines, Activates the Serotonin 2A Receptor via an β-Arrestin2/Src/Akt Signaling Complex in Vivo," was authored by Cullen L. Schmid of The Ohio State University Neuroscience Graduate Studies Program and Scripps Research.

The work was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Scripps Research Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. C. L. Schmid, L. M. Bohn. Serotonin, But Not N-Methyltryptamines, Activates the Serotonin 2A Receptor Via a β-Arrestin2/Src/Akt Signaling Complex In Vivo. Journal of Neuroscience, 2010; 30 (40): 13513 DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1665-10.2010

Cite This Page:

Scripps Research Institute. "How serotonin works: Findings point to new treatments for schizophrenia and depression." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 October 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101005171034.htm>.
Scripps Research Institute. (2010, October 12). How serotonin works: Findings point to new treatments for schizophrenia and depression. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101005171034.htm
Scripps Research Institute. "How serotonin works: Findings point to new treatments for schizophrenia and depression." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101005171034.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The new sci-fi thriller "Lucy" is making people question whether we really use all our brainpower. But, as scientists have insisted for years, we do. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do Obese Women Have 'Food Learning Impairment'?

Do Obese Women Have 'Food Learning Impairment'?

Newsy (July 18, 2014) Yale researchers tested 135 men and women, and it was only obese women who were deemed to have "impaired associative learning." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Does Mixing Alcohol and Energy Drinks Boost Urge To Drink?

Does Mixing Alcohol and Energy Drinks Boost Urge To Drink?

Newsy (July 18, 2014) A new study suggests that mixing alcohol with energy drinks makes you want to keep the party going. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pot Cooking Class Teaches Responsible Eating

Pot Cooking Class Teaches Responsible Eating

AP (July 18, 2014) Following the nationwide trend of eased restrictions on marijuana use, pot edibles are growing in popularity. One Boston-area cooking class is teaching people how to eat pot responsibly. (July 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins