Who would have thought that one of the most prescribed antidepressants in the world could be used to fight a deadly fungal infection? But, that is exactly what researchers found out. Read on to find out more about how Zoloft helps fight fungal meningitis.
What Is Zoloft?
For those of you who may not know, Zoloft, the brand name for sertraline, is commonly prescribed to treat different mental disorders. This includes obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, panic disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, and social anxiety disorder. It increases serotonin in the brain.
Recently, researchers found that Zoloft inhibits serious fungal infections. It specifically had beneficial effects in fighting cryptococcal meningitis. According to the CDC, this form of fungal meningitis is responsible for 181,000 deaths worldwide per year. And, most cases of it happen with people who have HIV/AIDS.
Researchers initially began looking for drugs already approved by the FDA that may contain antifungal agents. In their search, they came across sertraline. And, in subsequent studies found that it was very effective in fighting C. neoformans, the major cause of fungal meningitis.
Unfortunately, subsequent animal studies ultimately ended in fatalities for the hosts. However, the researchers remain optimistic because the fungal overgrowth had diminished considerably before the animals’ deaths. That combined with the antidepressant’s ability to cross the blood-brain barrier leaves scientists hopeful. Maybe it can be adapted for antifungal use in the future.
So, using it to combat current cases of fungal meningitis is not going to happen. Researchers still need to figure out the exact dosage and concentration to combat cryptococcal meningitis. But, they are confident they can figure it out with further testing.
The fact that Zoloft helps fight fungal meningitis seems completely unexpected. But, it’s good news for the future of treatments for this deadly infection. And, if it retains some of the original serotonin properties, it may make patients happy in the treatment process.