Monday, November 3, 2008

Aging brains and medicine

How medications work at different points in life can be a very important consideration. I see many, many studies looking at the viability of antidepressant therapy in the elderly. Recently there seems to be a flurry of research looking at how to medicate (note I did not use the word "treat") depression when it occurs as a comorbidity with diagnoses such as stroke or Alzheimer's disease.

In this study, the naturalistic finding was that as rats (and probably humans, too) age, the rate at which they are able to generate new neurons declines. The survival rate of those new cells starts to deteriorate as well.

The good news is that the response to fluoxetine (Prozac) was the same across the board.

The bad news is, that in none of the groups, even the young rats who had a better ability to make new neurons, did fluoxetine enhance that ability. it just me, or does it make sense that if a medication is going to work, it needs some brain cells to work on?

Cowen DS, Takase LF, Fornal CA, Jacobs BL. Age-dependent decline in hippocampal neurogenesis is not altered by chronic treatment with fluoxetine. Brain Res. 2008 Sep 4;1228:14-9. Epub 2008 Jun 24.

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