Antidepressants May Help the Body Fight HIV
> 6/16/2006 9:50:07 AM

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors may enhance the immune system's active defenses against HIV infection. A preliminary study of 40 womenfound that treating HIV-positive blood samples with the commonantidepressant citalopram (Celexa) at least partially reversedvirus-related inactivity among the body's natural killer cells,which serve as a line of defense against foreign agents by identifyingand destroying infected tissues. SSRI's are commonly prescribed to HIVpatients, many of whom fall into depression at some point afterdiagnosis, and the serotonin imbalances associated with depressiveperiods also weaken the killer cells:

Thephysiologic changes that have been associated with depression includesuppression of cell-mediated immunity, decreased neurogenesis in thebrain, decreased heart rate variability, increased platelets,hyperactivity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, and increasedinsulin resistance.

In separate studies, doctors notedthat reductions in the amount of killer cell activity in selectpatients corresponded with the levels of their depression and thatthese numbers returned to normal following the end of major depressiveperiods. These studies were performed in lab settings with independentblood samples and have yet to be recorded in vivo, but their results, when further explored, could be extremely significant to the estimated 40 million people worldwide who suffer from HIV and its related conditions.

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