Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai find a novel function for stress buster serotonin to treat neurological decline

The researchers at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) Mumbai have found a novel function for serotonin (a chemical that signals between neurons). The recent discovery establishes that serotonin is involved in the generation of new mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cell) in neurons, increased cellular respiration and fuel (ATP) in the cell. The chemical can impact the manner in which neurons grapple with stress and affect the trajectory of ageing. Neuronal loss is a major cause of neurodegenerative diseases such as in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Abnormal mitochondrial functions are known to cause or contribute to neuronal death. Hence, the new findings from TIFR raise the possibility that serotonin signalling could be used to prevent mitochondrial abnormalities and neuronal loss. Serotonin’s newly indentified function has been studied in mice and rats. If it found to be true in humans, it may have important medical implications. The results of the study were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The chemical name of serotonin is 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT).

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