Antipsychotic Seen to Work to Control Gut Inflammation in Early Study

Antipsychotic Seen to Work to Control Gut Inflammation in Early Study
The immune system of the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans can be manipulated with antipsychotic drugs — drugs that affect the nervous system — to control inflammation in the gut, researchers reported. The finding suggests that the gut-brain connection seen in worms may exist in people as well, and antipsychotics a way of manipulating the immune system of patients with conditions like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The study, “Neural Inhibition of Dopaminergic Signaling Enhances Immunity in a Cell-Non-autonomous Manner,” was recently published in the journal Current Biology. Conducted in the laboratory of Alejandro Aballay, PhD, a professor of molecular genetics and microbiology at Duke School of Medicine, the study aimed to understand how the neurotransmitter dopamine — well-known for its affects on the brain's reward and pleasure centers — controls innate immune responses in the intestines of C. elegans, and how this signaling pathway is involved in the differentiation between good and bad microbial organisms living in the gut. In a Duke press release, Aballay explains why using C. elegans as an experimental model was important. “Worms have evolved mechanisms to deal with colonizing bacteria. That is true for us as well,” he said. “Humans have trillions of microorganisms in our guts, and we have to be careful when activating antimicrobial defenses so that we mainly target potentially harmful microbes, without damaging our good bacteria — or even our own cells — in the process.” To conduct this dopamine signaling assessment, Aballay and his team blocked the neurotransmitter’s normal mechanisms with the drug chlorpromazine, an antipsychotic drug most often prescribed to treat patients with schizophrenia and manic de
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