Antidepressants Can Beat Serious Infections

Armen Hareyan's picture

Antidepressants can significantly boost immune system and beat serious infections, such as HIV and cancer.

A team of researchers from University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia examined depressed and non-depressed women with HIV. They were receiving depression treatment with three common types of drugs: Citalopram, CP-96345, and RU486.


Citalopram is a selective seretonin re-uptake inhibitor (SSRI), CP-96345 is a substance P antagonist, and RU486 is a glucocorticoid antagonist. Citalopram and CP-96345 significantly boosted immune system, but RU486 did not lead to any major changes. The two drugs are able to boost the number of natural killer (NK) cells, which are responsible for immune system strength.

Natural killer cells are blood white cells, which mainly settle in infected cells, such as cancer cells. NK cells start releasing agents, who are able to call up cell suicide in infected cells.

The finding comes from a previous study showing that people suffering from stress and depression have significantly lowered number of NK cells. This boosts infection rate and leads to HIV progression. Antidepressants themselves can significantly boost the number of natural killer cells and help the body fight serious infections.


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