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Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1988 Feb;45(2):150-4.

Antidepressants reduce whole-body norepinephrine turnover while enhancing 6-hydroxymelatonin output.

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  • 1Laboratory of Clinical Science, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, Md.


The effects of antidepressant treatment on noradrenergic function were studied in 27 patients with a major affective disorder. Twenty-four-hour urinary excretion of 6-hydroxymelatonin and "whole-body norepinephrine (NE) turnover," ie, 24-hour urinary output of NE and its major metabolites 3-methoxy-4-hydroxyphenylglycol, vanillylmandelic acid, and normetanephrine, were measured before and after treatment with the tricyclic desipramine hydrochloride, the aminoketone bupropion hydrochloride, the nonselective monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitor tranylcypromine sulfate, and the specific MAO type A inhibitor clorgiline. 6-Hydroxymelatonin excretion increased following antidepressant treatment, while at the same time whole-body NE turnover was reduced. These findings support the hypothesis that antidepressant therapy increases noradrenergic "efficiency," in that functional output, as measured by 6-hydroxymelatonin, is maintained while total NE production is decreased.

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