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Tylenol Effects on Neurotransmitters & Aspirin Effect on Neurotransmitters

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Metab Brain Dis. 2004 Jun;19(1-2):71-7.
Aspirin curtails the acetaminophen-induced rise in brain norepinephrine levels.
Maharaj H1, Maharaj DS, Saravanan KS, Mohanakumar KP, Daya S.
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We previously showed that acetaminophen administration to rats increases forebrain serotonin levels as a result of the inhibition of liver tryptophan-2,3-dioxygenase (TDO). In this study we determined whether aspirin alone and in combination with acetaminophen could further influence brain serotonin as well as norepinephrine levels and if so whether the status of the liver TDO activity would be altered. The results show that acetaminophen alone increases brain serotonin as well as norepinephrine levels with a concomitant inhibition of liver TDO activity. In contrast, aspirin did not alter the levels of these monoamines but increased serotonin turnover in the brain while acetaminophen decreased the turnover. When combined with acetaminophen, aspirin overrides the reduced serotonin turnover induced by acetaminophen. This report demonstrates the potential of these agents to alter neurotransmitter levels in the brain.
PMID: 15214507 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]


Interesting I think.

From Painkiller to Empathy Killer: Acetaminophen (Paracetamol) Reduces Empathy for Pain
Simulation theories of empathy hypothesize that empathizing with others’ pain shares some overlapping psychological computations with the processing of one’s own pain. Support for this perspective has largely relied on functional neuroimaging evidence of an overlap between activations during the experience of physical pain and empathy for other people’s pain. Here, we extend the functional overlap perspective to the neurochemical level and test whether a common physical painkiller, acetaminophen (paracetamol), can reduce empathy for another’s pain. In two double-blind placebo-controlled experiments, participants rated perceived pain, personal distress, and empathic concern in response to reading physical or social pain scenarios, witnessing ostracism in the lab, or visualizing another study participant receiving painful noise blasts. As hypothesized, acetaminophen reduced empathy in response to others’ pain. Acetaminophen also reduced the unpleasantness of noise blasts delivered to the participant, which mediated acetaminophen's effects on empathy. Together, these findings suggest that the physical painkiller acetaminophen reduces empathy for pain and provide a new perspective on the neurochemical bases of empathy. Because empathy regulates prosocial and antisocial behavior, these drug-induced reductions in empathy raise concerns about the broader social side effects of acetaminophen, which is taken by almost a quarter of US adults each week.

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