It seems like lower levels of a brain chemical which is responsible for maintaining mood, sleep and appetite, is the key player in cognitive decline. This is not just a side effect of Alzheimer’s disease, as it was earlier believed. According to previous studies, people with Alzheimer’s disease and severe cognitive decline have loss of serotonin neurons. The new study is suggestive that lower levels of serotonin transporters may be the primary cause of the disease, rather than being a by-product.
Low and out of balance serotonin levels like dopamine are known to greatly impact mood, especially depression. The report suggested that finding ways to prevent the loss of serotonin or introducing a substitute neurotransmitter could slow or stop the progression of Alzheimer's disease and perhaps other dementias.
"Now that we have more evidence that serotonin is a chemical that appears affected early in cognitive decline, we suspect that increasing serotonin function in the brain could prevent memory loss from getting worse and slow disease progression," said Gwenn Smith, Professor at the varsity.
For the study, to be published in the journal Neurobiology of Disease, the researchers recruited participants with mild cognitive impairment mainly in memory -- indicative of Alzheimer's disease -- who were paired with healthy matched controls.
The results indicate that people with mild cognitive impairment had 37 per cent lower verbal memory scores and 18 per cent lower levels of serotonin transporter in the brain’s hippocampus compared to healthy controls.
(with IANS Inputs)
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