Serotonin and Neurological Afflictions

Hi,

Last week we saw how eating a tryptophan-rich diet didn’ t necessarily translate into increased serotonin levels in the brain unless backed by adequate Vitamin B3, B6 and complex carbohydrates. It however, did place one a better chance at getting a serotonin boost.

Studies have established some links to a defecient state of brain serotonin with other neurological afflictions besides migraines, such as alcoholism, depression, suicidal tendencies, PTSD, obsessive compulsive disorders, generalised anxiety disorders and social phobia to name a few.

We may experience low brain serotonin levels due to a variety of reasons:

1. Low levels of production of brain serotonin.

2. Less number of serotonin receptors in our brain region

3. High reuptake rate of serotonin back from the synapse into the presynaptic neurons, and

4. Defeciency in tryptophan levels in our body.

There is a new and fifth interesting dimension that has cropped up – that of the serotonin transporter gene (SERT). To relay a message, a neuron releases serotonin into the synapse or the gap between two neurons from where their dendrites begin. Once the message is relayed to the next neuron, the released serotonin in the synapse is collected and transported back to the pre-synaptic neuron by the SERT. SERTS are monoamine proteins. It has been found that when there are changes in the SERT metabolism, neurological afflictions begin.

It is also now being thought that the gene (called SLC6A4 – Solute Carrier family 6, member 4) that encodes the SERT can be mutated and result in changing the functions of SERT.

The area (aka promotor) in the gene SLC6A4 which synthesises RNA under the instrucions from DNA, contains polymorphism – some long repeats (16 repeats of a sequence) and some short repeats (14 repeats of a sequence). Shorter repeats obviously enable lesser coding in them and thus when we have a pair of short repeats we get an increase in the risks of developing disorder states.

So though SSRIs and beta blockers may help migraineurs as well as those suffering from insomnia, depression, PTSD and other anxiety disorders, their efficacy will not be the same between 2 persons with the same condition. Those predisposed to neurological and psychological conditions due to the presence of 2 short versions of the gene will be less benefitted than those with other variations (2 long or 1 long and 1 short).

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One thought on “Serotonin and Neurological Afflictions

  1. Hi Mamta! There is some good info here. Can you please name your sources so I can research it and pass it along to my Neuro?

    Thanks!

    Ellen

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