27 Oct Fluoxetine – Prozac – May Be Beneficial for Dry Macular Degeneration
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Bradley D. Gelfand PhD
Center for Advanced Vision Science
Department of Ophthalmology
Department of Biomedical Engineering
University of Virginia School of Medicine
Charlottesville, VA 22908
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Would you briefly describe dry AMD?
Response: Dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a form of AMD that affects about 11 million people in the United States, and many millions more worldwide. Dry AMD is a disease affecting the macula, the central part of our retina that is responsible for fine visual acuity tasks – things like reading, driving, and recognizing faces. Dry AMD typically develops in people in their 6th, 7th, and 8th decades of life and begins with small changes to the retina that are unlikely to affect vision at first. As the disease progresses, it can develop into more advanced stages (“wet” AMD and geographic atrophy), which can cause blindness. Unfortunately, there is no approved treatment that can prevent dry AMD or its progression to advanced blinding stages.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: The main findings of our study are that the drug fluoxetine (trade name Prozac) may be beneficial for dry AMD by inhibiting inflammatory pathways to drive degeneration of the retina. Our study used experimental models of AMD, in which fluoxetine was effective at preventing retinal inflammation and degeneration.
Another strength of our study was that, using real-word data on people taking fluoxetine for depression, we found that among individuals with depression those taking fluoxetine had a roughly 15% reduced risk of developing a new diagnosis of dry AMD compared to those not taking fluoxetine. Overall our studies suggest that in addition to its anti-anxiety and anti-depression effects, fluoxetine may also be beneficial for reducing retinal inflammation and preventing dry AMD.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Overall our studies suggest that in addition to its anti-anxiety and anti-depression effects, fluoxetine may also be beneficial for reducing retinal inflammation and preventing dry AMD.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: In the future, we hope to study whether fluoxetine protects the retina of individuals at risk of developing AMD. We are also interested in whether fluoxetine can reduce or delay the progression of disease among people with AMD.
MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Response: It is imperative to note that people should not change their medication on the basis of this study. The research we performed is preliminary, and it would be premature to alter one’s medication on the basis of these findings. In addition, I would like to note that several of my co-authors and myself are named as inventors on patent applications on macular degeneration filed by the University of Virginia, including for using fluoxetine to treat AMD.
Identification of fluoxetine as a direct NLRP3 inhibitor to treat atrophic macular degeneration
Meenakshi Ambati, Ivana Apicella, Shao-bin Wang, Siddharth Narendran, Hannah Leung, Felipe Pereira, Yosuke Nagasaka, Peirong Huang, Akhil Varshney, Kirstie L. Baker, Kenneth M. Marion, Mehrdad Shadmehr, Cliff I. Stains, Brian C. Werner, Srinivas R. Sadda, Ethan W. Taylor, S. Scott Sutton, Joseph Magagnoli, Bradley D. Gelfand
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Oct 2021, 118 (41) e2102975118; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2102975118
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