From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Serotonin
Mains level : Serotonin and its uses
- Indian scientists have discovered that serotonin boosts energy production in brain cells and helps them survive under stress. This new knowledge can potentially be used to develop anti-stress drugs in future.
Role of Serotonin
- Serotonin is a chemical that relays information from one part of the brain to another and is known to play a key role in a number of functions ranging from sleep to social behaviour.
- The study by scientists at the Mumbai-based Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) has found that the neurotransmitter boosts the number of mitochondria in brain cells.
- Mitochondria in brain cells generate energy to carry out cellular functions and play a role in survival of brain cells under stress.
- In addition, serotonin also increases production of energy by mitochondria.
- This role of serotonin in regulating neuronal energetics was not known till now.
Benefits of Serotonin
- Serotonin reduces toxic reactive oxygen species in neurons, boosts anti-oxidant enzymes and buffers neurons from the damaging effects of cellular stress.
- The study has uncovered an unprecedented role of serotonin in energy production in neurons, directly impacting how neurons handle stress.
- It has also identified novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders.
Energy boosting function
- Researchers have also found out the mechanism through which serotonin carries out its energy boosting function.
- It has emerged that generation of new mitochondria in neurons by serotonin is accompanied by increased cellular respiration and energy chemical ATP.
- These effects of serotonin involve the serotonin2A receptor and master regulators of mitochondrial generation – SIRT1 and PGC-1a.