A research team from University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia revealed interesting findings linking antidepressants to infections.
It turned out that an antidepressant can be used not only to treat depression, but also to strengthen immune system and fight against serious infections, such as HIV and cancer.
The study was conducted among depressed and non-depressed women with HIV. They were treated with three types of drugs: Citalopram, CP-96345, and RU486.
Citalopram belongs to a class of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). CP-96345 is a substance P antagonist. RU486 is a synthetic steroid compound used as a pharmaceutical.
Citalopram and CP-96345 significantly improved immune system, compared with RU486 that didn’t lead to any major changes. The two drugs helped create natural killer (NK) cells, which are responsible for immune system strength.
Natural killer cells are a type of cytotoxic lymphocyte that constitute a major component of the innate immune system. NK cells play a major role in the rejection of tumors and cells infected by viruses. The cells kill by releasing small cytoplasmic granules of proteins called perforin and granzyme that cause the target cell to die by apoptosis.