Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Brief Explanation of my Serotonin-Autoimmunity Research

On the off chance that anyone out there besides me is reading these studies I am posting, and wondering where it's all leading, I wanted to write up a little explanation.

I started this blog not long after I learned that I suffer from esophageal motility dysfunction. I also have mild Raynaud's Phenomenon, Hashimoto's Thyroiditis and an elevated ANA. For the past 18 months (just about) I have been pursuing treatment in the effort to prevent further progression of autoimmune disease... toward Lupus, RA or Scleroderma.

I follow the antibiotic protocol developed by Dr. Thomas McPherson Brown who believed that mycoplasma infection underlay arthritis and rheumatic disease.

My feeling has been that even if they have not yet proved the infectious theory, it doesn't matter - I just want to get well. I haven't really cared about the mechanism for *why* the antibiotic at low doses work... I am just so grateful that they have helped me to get so much of my life and strength back.

Recently I stumbled across a study that proved serotonin as the link between vascular disease and fibrosis. This was a real eye opener to me.

Scleroderma patients suffer from the following problems:

Reduced motility of the esophagus (reduced or no peristalsis in the lower 2/3 of the esophagus)
Raynaud's Phenomenon
Pulmonary Fibrosis
Cardiac Problems
Kidney Fibrosis

Could serotonin be the common link that connects the vascular disease (Raynaud's) that proceeds onset of scleroderma to the process of fibrosis?

Even more importantly, the study I read stated that it was possible to REVERSE and even prevent fibrosis:

"Dermal fibrosis was reduced in 5-HT2B mice using both inducible and genetic models of fibrosis. Pharmacologic inactivation of 5-HT2B also effectively prevented the onset of experimental fibrosis and ameliorated established fibrosis. Moreover, inhibition of platelet activation prevented fibrosis in different models of skin fibrosis."

This is pretty incredible stuff.

If fibrosis can be reversed by the inactivation of the 5-HT2B serotonin neurotransmitter, it might save the lives of people I now know and care about... people who live courageously with scleroderma every day.

Heck, it might save me too!

And that would be more wonderful than I can say. I have three small children and I don't want to miss a minute with any of them.

That's the thing about autoimmunity - it seems to mainly strike women in our reproductive years. I have a lot of friends now, all somewhere near my age, with kids... who suffer from Lupus, RA, Sjogrens and scleroderma.

This is a very personal research story then... I want to figure this thing out and save us all.

Unfortunately, I am not a scientist!

I was an English major in college and then an elementary and middle school teacher for 10 years. I scurried away from math and science just as quickly as my feet could carry me back in the day before my health went south.

So grappling with the language in these studies is really tough for me. I feel like I need a science dictionary just to wade through the different terms.

My husband, bless his heart, was a biology major and he understands much of this stuff a lot better than I do. I've been turning to him then, frequently, to ask what the scientific jargon means.

What I'm trying to do here in this blog is aggregate all of the articles I can find that show the relationship between the serotonin receptor function and development of autoimmune disease.

I'm hoping that if I can read enough articles, maybe I'll finally understand the "big idea" - the relationship between genetics, pathogens, tryptophan, serotonin and the development of autoimmune problems that I and countless others face.

Here's the catch:

I can't tell yet whether I have too much or too little serotonin in my system!

I can't tell yet what the feedback loops are between serotonin in the brain and serotonin in the rest of the body.

I haven't been able to figure out whether I need MORE serotonin (possible to achieve through supplementation, exercise and diet) or LESS serotonin, possible to achieve with medications and reduction in the amount of tryptophan I consume.

The whole thing is still a mystery to me.

What I do know is that taking doxycycline has helped me vastly with inflammation. I also learned in the last few days that doxycycline actually increases the thickness of serotonin receptors... which could explain how it helps to modulate the amount of serotonin released. This may explain why doxycycline and minocycline have shown themselves to be very helpful in the management of collagen vascular diseases.

In time when I have collected enough research I want very badly to share it with medical researchers who can understand it all... who might be able to have that "Aha!" moment where they put 2 and 2 together and come up with an actual cure or treatment for these devastating chronic diseases.

I don't need to be a hero and nobody even needs to know my name. I just want to motivate scientists and physicians to look harder at the connection between serotonin and autoimmunity... and to encourage everyone from pharmaceutical companies to Chinese medicine doctors to naturopaths to pursue targeting the 5-HT2B receptor so that millions of us will be freed from our disease conditions and able to pursue worthy, fulfilling, productive lives.

If you are out there reading this and you understand the science that I do not, please continue reading and examine these 57 studies (and counting!) I have put together. I really believe there is something important here.

From the bottom of my heart, I ask you to take a good look and see if there isn't an answer here to a perplexing mystery that has brought strong men to their knees, torn families apart, taken away the freedom and mobility that many of us so cherish... and ended lives too soon.

Thank you!


  1. Just found your your serotonin autoimmunity post reads like the same area I have been looking at from a very different direction, you have probably seen the recent report about how serotonin is dierctly involved with how the immune cells communicate and your searching probably makes you an authority in your own condition which I have not till now heared about. If you can educate me about what it shares with other autoimune conditions perhaps we could start putting a picture togeather

  2. I "googled" serotonin and autoimmunity because of my reserach on Alternative treatments for Myasthenia Gravis. I came upon reesearch that stated that all people with autoimmune disorders in their study had high levels of plasma serotonin and low levels of platelet serotonin (Serotonin wasn't being taken-up). In a study of 52 subjects with Myasthenia Gravis they had good results from using a drug called Tieneptine which is a Selective Serotonin Reuptake ENHANCER. Interesting stuff. Unfortunately, the drug isn't FDA approved so it's not available in Canada or the U.S. I WANT TO GET MY HANDS ON IT!

  3. Have you looked into Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN)? Please Google it. It is cheap and effective in creating more serotonin, thus helping the body with autoimmune diseases.

  4. I am a researcher working on MS and I have been following the serotonin trail as well. The conclusions are a bit confusing but platelets do seem to be playing an active role. I have been working on it alone since I wanted to be sure that I had some kind of hypothesis in mind before I speak of it. Thank you for your blog entry. It motivated me to continue to look harder.

  5. Just a quick reply to one of your questions. It appears that platelet serotonin promotes inflammation in RA.

  6. I would highly recommend to do IFA and culture for Rickettsia.