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Antidepressant medication may have clinical applications for diabetes

Category: Blood and Blood Diseases

Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston have found that the antidepressant medication paroxetine may help treat cardiovascular complications that can result from diabetes.

The study involved several rounds of research under various settings. First, the scientists looked at the ability of various pharmaceutical compounds to protect the inner-linings of blood vessels, which can be damaged by toxic molecules known as reactive oxygen species (ROS) that are produced by endothelial cells in diabetic patients.

The next round of research was test-tube trials. The researchers found that the substance paroxetine, which is sold as the antidepressant medication Paxil, was able to inhibit the concentration levels of an ROS known as superoxide, and it was also able to reduce the amount of ROS molecules produced by mitochondria.

Other laboratory experiments showed that Paxil significantly prevented the ROS from damaging DNA and RNA proteins, and these beneficial results were also apparent when tested on rats' blood vessels.

The practical application of paroxetine was also demonstrated in live test rats that were injected with a chemical known as streptozotocin, which causes diabetes to develop. While the subjects experienced hypoglycemic conditions, or elevated sugar levels that cause ROS production, their arteries were able to maintain their normal function. The compounds' beneficial effects came as a surprise to the investigators.

"We were quite surprised when paroxetine came out as an active compound - a result, we later determined, of what seems to be a completely new effect unrelated to its antidepressant actions and not shared by any other known antidepressant drug," said research author Csaba Szabo, M.D., Ph.D.

Diabetes and glucose
When a person consumes carbohydrates and sugary foods, the body breaks them down into a sugar source called glucose. Glucose enters the bloodstream and is stored and converted into energy with the help of a hormone known as insulin. Diabetes results when the body does not produce enough glucose or is not affected by insulin. The cells then have a deficient energy source and the elevated sugar levels in the blood are detrimental to the nerves and blood vessels. Some health hazards of diabetes include heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, dental complications and even amputations.

Diabetes diagnosis
According to the National Institutes of Health, a blood test is usually used to diagnose diabetes in which analyzes glucose levels.

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