Antidepressants as a Treatment for Stroke?

Neurogenesis reduces the severity of a stroke and improves post-stroke functionality, according to the results of a new study by David Greenberg, MD, PhD, and fellow researchers at the Buck Institute for Age Research.

the results of a new study by

David Greenberg, MD, PhD, and fellow

.

The study revealed that drugs shown to promote neurogenesis in other settings, such as when antidepressants and mood stabilizers are given as treatment for depression, were also effective in inducing neurogenesis following a stroke.

According to the researchers, prior research has shown that the brain does try to heal itself following a stroke by growing new neurons, but until now, it was not clear that those new neurons actually improved brain function.

“What this study shows more convincingly than in the past is that the production of new neurons after stroke is beneficial in rodents,” said Greenberg, senior author of the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences

. “Assuming that neurogenesis is also beneficial in humans, drugs approved by the FDA for other purposes and already shown to promote new neuron growth in rodents might be worth studying as a potential treatment for stroke in humans.”

Greenberg added that anti-depressants are already sometimes given to patients following a stroke to treat depression related to the event but that it was not known, until this study, that the administration of anti-depressants could also promote neurogenesis. However, despite the positive results of the new study, Greenberg cautions physicians and patients about the use of pre-existing drugs for treating this specific problem that is associated with strokes.

“Everything has potential side effects,” said Greenberg. “Even taking something as seemingly innocuous as an antidepressant carries the possibility of making someone worse. These drugs need to be tested in a controlled clinical setting.”

Neurogenesis reduces the severity of a stroke and improves post-stroke functionality, according to researchers at the Buck Institute for Age Research