Portrait of the Robbers

Serotonin Robbers (Cont. #3)

In the search of the serotonin robbers, we know that something causes our bodies to develop fever, in response to attacks on its organs by viruses or bacteria. This “something” is anti-inflammatory cytokines — which are small proteins produced by our immune system. If you think of the immune system as an army, these proteins would be analogous to radio communications, acting as messengers between cells or platoons. The information transmitted communicates the next chain of action. Since their discovery in the eighties, studies have revealed that these agents are essential factors in nearly all aspects of medicine. Some are good and others bad cytokines, and they are crucial targets for emerging medical treatments. Therapeutic agents are devised to either enhance or block them.

In the search of the serotonin robbers, we know that something causes our bodies to develop fever, in response to attacks on its organs by viruses or bacteria. This “something” is anti-inflammatory cytokines — which are small proteins produced by our immune system. If you think of the immune system as an army, these proteins would be analogous to radio communications, acting as messengers between cells or platoons. The information transmitted communicates the next chain of action. Since their discovery in the eighties, studies have revealed that these agents are essential factors in nearly all aspects of medicine. Some are good and others bad cytokines, and they are crucial targets for emerging medical treatments. Therapeutic agents are devised to either enhance or block them.

This “something” is anti-inflammatory cytokines —

In sum, the fundamental discovery was that some of the robbers send agents called cytokine emissaries, that in turn, causes a holdup for the production of serotonin. How is this done? The enemy agent chokes an enzyme that would usually convert the amino acid tryptophan to serotonin. Next, the enzyme catalyst instead secretes a toxic protein that produce a chain of events believed to be involved ultimately in many neurological illnesses, such Alzheimer, dementia, and depression.

Credits: Peshkova Source Fotolia

The essential message in this process is that it not only deprives one of “magic powder” producing our colors and sparks, but importantly challenges the old theory that taking tryptophan will enhance the production of serotonin. Hence, putting more money in this bank will only attract more robbers and cause more damage.

How did researchers come to understand this charade, and how did we identify serotonin as the magic powder? Many studies have deduced the role of serotonin by measuring its levels. It is important to note that we do not get serotonin from food; the body manufactures it from L-tryptophan and other amino acids from numerous sources.

Cont: Manufacturing the “Magic Powder”

 

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