Keeping abreast of serotonin's roles.Biologists studying mice have unexpectedly found that the well-known brain chemical serotonin also controls the secretion of milk within mammary glands.
Serotonin is one molecule that nerve cells use to communicate with each other. The drug fluoxetine fluoxetine /flu·ox·e·tine/ (floo-ok´se-ten) a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor used as the hydrochloride salt in the treatment of depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bulimia nervosa, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. , or Prozac, and related antidepressants Antidepressants
Medications prescribed to relieve major depression. Classes of antidepressants include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (fluoxetine/Prozac, sertraline/Zoloft), tricyclics (amitriptyline/ Elavil), MAOIs (phenelzine/Nardil), and heterocyclics appear to work by influencing serotonin chemistry in the brain.
Nelson Horseman of the University of Cincinnati The University of Cincinnati is a coeducational public research university in Cincinnati, Ohio. Ranked as one of America’s top 25 public research universities and in the top 50 of all American research universities, and his colleagues stumbled upon serotonin's mammary mammary /mam·ma·ry/ (mam´ah-re) pertaining to the mammary gland, or breast.
Of or relating to a breast or mamma.
pertaining to the mammary gland. role while looking for genes activated by the hormone prolactin prolactin /pro·lac·tin/ (-lak´tin) a hormone of the anterior pituitary that stimulates and sustains lactation in postpartum mammals, and shows luteotropic activity in certain mammals.
n. as it stimulates milk production. Some of the triggered genes encode the enzymes needed to synthesize serotonin, the researchers report in the February Developmental Cell. The scientists also detected serotonin in mammary tissue and breast milk.
Experiments by Horseman's team indicate that serotonin offers a feedback signal that shuts down milk production once the mammary glands are full. The researchers speculate that drugs affecting serotonin chemistry, such as Prozac, might disturb milk production or alter the quality of the milk.--J.T.