Prozac: Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor

This animation shows how Prozac® alleviates depression. It can also be used to illustrate in general how neuron cells communicate with each other and how a neurotransmitter sends a signal from one neuron to another.

Some people with depression have a shortage of serotonin, the "mood" neurotransmitter in the brain. The antidepressant Prozac®, a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI), can help correct this imbalance by increasing the brain's own supply of serotonin.



This animation shows how Prozac® acts as a selective inhibitor of Serotonin Reuptake Transporter Protein, thus alleviating depression. In the brain, serotonin is associated with transmission of thoughts and feelings. In a healthy person, an optimal concentration of serotonin is available at the synapse. The imbalance of this neurotransmitter triggers emotional symptoms, like depressed mood, or physical symptoms, like aches and pains.


The blue colored layers represent the trans-membrane structure of both pre- and post-synaptic areas (the upper and lower part of the screen, respectively). Red colored masses in the post-synaptic membrane represent serotonin receptors. There are other membrane proteins as well. Depression can occur when the serotonin transporter protein (a G-protein coupled receptor; shown in white in the pre-synaptic membrane) takes up a serotonin molecule before it has a chance to bind to the post-synaptic receptor. This process is known as reuptake. Prozac® blocks the reuptake of serotonin by disabling the transporter proteins. Consequently, more serotonin molecules will be available to the post-synaptic receptor and thus depression is relieved.

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