Common antidepressant may be useful to fight Alzheimer’s, doctors say

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Lexapro, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), has been used to treat depression for years. Now, researchers have found that it reduces the number of amyloids in the spinal fluid.

Dr. Yvette Sheline, professor of psychology, radiology and neurology at the University of Pennsylvania, said amyloids increase in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

“We found there was a significant reduction looking at the pre- and post-treatment. Not in the shortest and least-dosed group, but in the doses that were longer duration and at a higher dose, there was a significant difference from pre-treatment,” she explained.

Sheline said the finding is encouraging, and this medication could be useful.

“It could be, because if somebody was taking this for years, perhaps it could be just enough to prevent them from going down that path,” she said. “But this trial gives no proof of that, and so I would not want anybody to use this as a reason to run out and start taking SSRIs.”

She suggests this research could help scientists find one drug or a combination of medications that could give patients hope in the prevention or treatment of the most common form of dementia.​