Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the major cause of death in infants between 1 month and 1 year of age in developed countries (1).
Researchers of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Monterotondo, Italy, have developed a mouse model of SIDS to study to role of serotonin signaling in the disease and hope to apply their findings to treating the same condition in humans.
Postmortem studies have shown alterations in serotonin neurons in the brainstem of SIDS infants. The researchers set out to determine how serotonin homeostasis may contribute to infant death in a mammalian model. The findings, which are published in this week’s issue of Science, reveal that altered serotonin homeostasis alone is sufficient to cause sudden death in mice (2).
While the exact cause of SIDS remains elusive (experts believe that multiple factors, including predisposing conditions and environmental stressors, contribute to SIDS (3)), the EMBL researchers believe that their mouse model may help identify risk factors, new diagnostic tools and prophylactic avenues for the prevention of SIDS
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(1) PubMed ID:17446144
(2) PubMed ID:18599790
(3) Mayo Clinic