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Hum Psychopharmacol. 2004 Jun;19(4):251-8.

Decrease of the platelet 5-HT2A receptor function by long-term imipramine treatment in endogenous depression.

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  • 1Instituto Clínic de Psiquiatría y Psicología, Hospital Clinic, Villarroel, Barcelona, Spain. esgomez@clinic.ub.es



Animal studies have found that many antidepressants induce decreases in both the density and the functional activity of the serotonin 2A (5-HT2A) receptor subtype. However, the extrapolation of findings to humans has been inconclusive. A physiological platelet response mediated by this receptor, the serotonin-amplified platelet aggregation, was measured to study whether long-term antidepressant treatment induces changes in 5-HT2A receptor functioning in endogenous depressed patients.


The percentage of serotonin-amplified platelet aggregation to adenosine diphosphate (ADP) was studied in 15 untreated patients with major depressive disorder (DSM-IV) with endogenous features (Newcastle scale). This index was used as an indirect measurement of the functional status of platelet 5-HT2A receptors. Aggregation studies were repeated once remission of the symptoms was achieved during treatment with imipramine (150-300 mg/day). A group of 15 concurrent normal subjects was used as a control.


A statistically significant decrease (p = 0.038) in the percentage of serotonin-amplified platelet aggregation to ADP was observed when remission was achieved (after 145 +/- 27 days).


The results showed a decrease in a platelet functional response mediated by 5-HT2A receptors following effective imipramine treatment, suggesting that desensitization or down-regulation of the 5-HT2A receptor function could be linked to the therapeutic effect of some antidepressants. The data also support the use of platelet aggregometry as a surrogate measurement of antidepressant action, particularly in intra-subject designs.

Copyright 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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