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Neuropsychopharmacology. 2002 Aug;27(2):301-8.

Serotonin 1A receptor activation and hypothermia in humans: lack of evidence for a presynaptic mediation.

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Department of Psychiatry, McGill University, Montreal, Canada.


The hypothermia produced by 5-HT1A agonists had initially been claimed to be caused by the activation of cell body 5-HT1A autoreceptors resulting in decreased 5-HT transmission in laboratory animals. In order to address this issue in humans, 12 healthy volunteers underwent a dietary tryptophan depletion paradigm to decrease 5-HT availability, under double-blind conditions, during which body temperature was monitored following oral administration of the 5-HT1A agonist buspirone (30 mg). In addition, plasma prolactin and growth hormone evaluations, two responses that are mediated via the direct activation of postsynaptic 5-HT1A receptors, were determined. The hypothesis was that if responses are mediated by decreased transmission at postsynaptic 5-HT1A receptors, resulting from dampened 5-HT release as a consequence of 5-HT1A autoreceptors activation, then responses to the exogenous 5-HT1A agonist should be attenuated when 5-HT availability has been markedly decreased beforehand. Buspirone produced the same significant increase in prolactin and growth hormone in the tryptophan-depleted state as in the control condition. Similarly, the degree of hypothermia produced by buspirone was not significantly different in the two experimental conditions. In conclusion, these results strongly suggest that the hypothermia and the increases in prolactin and growth hormone produced by buspirone are attributable to the enhanced activation of postsynaptic 5-HT1A receptors, and not to a decrease in 5-HT transmission resulting from the activation of the 5-HT1A cell body autoreceptors on 5-HT neurons.

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