Investigating the Potential for Antidepressant-Induced Worsening of Depression in the C. elegans Model System

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Authors
McEuen, Katherine
Radosevich, Timothy
Advisor
Sheafor, Brandon
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Date of Issue
2023-04-28
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Title
Investigating the Potential for Antidepressant-Induced Worsening of Depression in the C. elegans Model System
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Presentation
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Abstract
In 2018, over 70.9 million antidepressant items were prescribed, with about 9.5% of adult Americans struggling with some form of depression each year. An effective and widely used class of drugs to combat depression symptoms are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Unfortunately, the most prescribed SSRIs, fluoxetine (under the brand name Prozac), can induce considerable side effects. According to the national library of medicine, 30.4% of patients who take the common SSRI fluoxetine will develop acute worsening of depression (Ungvari et al., 2019). These symptoms may manifest as fatigue, reduced sexual drive, and/or decreased metabolic rate. While research has been performed on worsening depression due to SSRIs in humans, it is unclear whether the cause is psychological or pharmacological due to biases with self-reporting. We will use hermaphroditic Caenorhabditis elegans as a model organism because they have serotonin receptors similar to those found in humans. We will expose C. elegans to fluoxetine and perform several behavioral and physiological tests to assess symptoms of depression. These exams will evaluate heart rate (a general indicator of baseline health), reproductive drive, and responses to stress and external stimuli. Each test was selected from the DSM-5 criteria for Major Depressive Disorder in humans. If C. elegans develop the aforementioned symptoms, we can conclude fluoxetine intake manifests in physiological reactions. If few to none of the symptoms are present, it would indicate that the depression with fluoxetine is more psychologically than physiologically based.
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Spring
Department
Biology