BOB HIRSHON (Host):
Alzheimer’s disease affects five million people in the United States. Its hallmark is clumps of cells in the brain called amyloid plaques, which kill brain cells. Now, researchers at Washington University and Penn State University report in the journal Science Translational Medicine that a commonly prescribed antidepressent called citalopram might prevent the plaques. Penn State researcher Yvette Sheline says they worked with a mouse model for Alzheimer’s.
Yvette Sheline (University of Pennsylvania):
The plaques in mice that received citalopram had no growth; they stayed static. They were sort of arrested at the current growth stage. And there were no new plaques.
In healthy humans, citalopram reduced concentrations of amyloid beta, the compound that leads to plaques. Shelline says further studies will try to determine if they can stop or slow the disease in its earliest stages. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.