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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Feb 18;100(4):2035-40. Epub 2003 Feb 5.

In socially isolated mice, the reversal of brain allopregnanolone down-regulation mediates the anti-aggressive action of fluoxetine.

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  • 1Psychiatric Institute, Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, University of Illinois, Chicago, IL 60612, USA.


Social isolation (SI) of male mice lasting >4 weeks is associated with aggression toward intruders and a down-regulation of brain allopregnanolone (Allo) content. SI of female mice fails to down-regulate brain Allo content or to induce aggressiveness. Fluoxetine (Prozac in clinical use) is an S- and R-fluoxetine (FLX) mixture, which in mammals is metabolized into S- and R-norfluoxetine (NFLX). The S isomers of FLX and NFLX are more active than their respective R isomers in normalizing brain Allo down-regulation and in reducing the aggressiveness induced by SI. Thus, FLX stereospecifically reduces brain Allo down-regulation and the aggressiveness induced by SI, whereas serotonin (5-HT) uptake inhibition lacks stereospecificity. The doses of S-FLX and S-NFLX that reduce aggressiveness and Allo brain content down-regulation induced by SI are at least one order of magnitude lower than the doses that block 5-HT reuptake. Doses of imipramine that inhibit 5-HT uptake neither reduce aggressiveness nor normalize brain Allo down-regulation. We conclude that Allo brain content normalization is a better candidate than 5-HT reuptake inhibition to explain the reduction of aggressiveness elicited by S-FLX and S-NFLX.

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