Researchers from the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany have found Amitriptyline, commonly used antidepressant, to be useful in the treatment of cystic fibrosis, a recessive genetic disorder affecting the mucus lining of the lungs.

The doctors have come to this conclusion by working on mice.

Amitriptyline is being marketed under names such as Elavil, Endep and Vanatrip. The medicine has been found to reduce levels of a fatty molecule called ceramide in the lungs. A build up of this fatty molecule leads to inflammation and the death of lung cells often causing bacterial infection, one of the leading causes of mortality among people with the disease.

The study has been conducted on cells taken from 18 cystic fibrosis patients and on mice that have been genetically modified to reproduce the symptoms of the disease.

Treating patients with cystic fibrosis with Amitriptyline had been defined as a new and important strategy for curbing bacterial infections among people with the disease.
A lot of care should be taken when administering the drug because eliminating too much of ceramide could have a negative impact on the cells because this lipid has a role in cell maintenance.

Today, around 80,000 people in Europe and North America are diagnosed with Cystic fibrosis caused by mutations in a gene called CFTR.