Effects of the SSRI antidepressant, Lexapro, on metabolic rate and addictive behaviors in Tetrahymena thermophila

dc.contributor.advisorOtto-Hitt, Stefanie
dc.contributor.authorBorzadek, Sofie
dc.contributor.authorJones, Amber
dc.description.abstractSelective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) medications, such as escitalopram (Lexapro), are increasingly being prescribed to individuals as young as 12 years old. This is concerning given the side effects of these medications, including changes in appetite, mood, and withdrawal-related symptoms. The purpose of this research was to determine the effect of escitalopram on feeding, motility, and addiction in Tetrahymena thermophila. The impact of escitalopram on expression of GTR4, which encodes a glucose transporter involved in metabolism, was also characterized. Given its known side effects in humans, it was hypothesized that escitalopram would alter the expression of GTR4 while also impacting feeding, motility, and addictive responses in T. thermophila. To test this hypothesis, T. thermophila were cultured for 48 hours either in media without escitalopram or with an equivalent dose of the medication scaled to the average weight of a 12-year-old. Following the 48-hour incubation, feeding behavior was measured using a phagocytosis assay, movement was assessed using a motility assay, and addictive behavior was analyzed by tracking cell movement after re-exposure to escitalopram. To measure GTR4 expression, RNA was extracted from the cultures and RT-qPCR was performed on the control and escitalopram-treated cells. It was predicted that GTR4 expression would increase given the higher levels of serotonin and subsequent increased metabolic activity, resulting in a heightened need for glucose. Furthermore, it was anticipated that feeding behavior would increase along with addictive responses, while motility would decrease, as the T. thermophila shifted their energy usage in the presence of escitalopram.
dc.titleEffects of the SSRI antidepressant, Lexapro, on metabolic rate and addictive behaviors in Tetrahymena thermophila
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