Brain Scan Study Adds to Evidence That Lower Brain Serotonin Levels Are Linked to Dementia
In a study looking at brain scans of people with mild loss of thought and memory ability, Johns Hopkins researchers report evidence of lower levels of the serotonin transporter — a natural brain chemical that regulates mood, sleep and appetite.
Previous studies from Johns Hopkins and other centers have shown that people with Alzheimer’s disease and severe cognitive decline have severe loss of serotonin neurons, but the studies did not show whether those reductions were a cause or effect of the disease. Results of the new study of people with very early signs of memory decline, the researchers say, suggest that lower serotonin transporters may be drivers of the disease rather than a byproduct.
A report on the study also suggest 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.
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