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Anesthesiology. 2003 Jun;98(6):1356-62.

Effects of antidepressants on function and viability of human neutrophils.

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Department of Anesthesiology, Pain Therapy and Home Ventilation, University Hospital Maastricht, Netherlands.



Antidepressants are frequently used in chronic pain therapy and are under investigation as long-acting local anesthetics. Because of the structural similarities between antidepressants and local anesthetics, the authors hypothesized that these compounds act similarly, and they investigated the effects of nortriptyline, amitriptyline, imipramine, and fluoxetine on priming and activation of human polymorphonuclear neutrophils (hPMNs).


Effects of 30-, 120-, and 240-min preincubation with nortriptyline (10(-7)-10(-4) M), amitriptyline (10(-6)-10(-3) M), imipramine (10(-6)-10(-3) M), or fluoxetine (10(-7)-10(-4) M) on O(2)- generation of platelet activating factor-primed (10-6 M) and/or formyl-methionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine-activated (10(-6) M) isolated hPMNs were determined. All data are reported as mean +/- SD (statistics: t test, P < 0.05).


Brief incubation in low concentrations of nortriptyline, amitriptyline, or fluoxetine (all at 10(-5) M) did inhibit priming but not activation of hPMNs. Imipramine (10(-5) M) affected neither priming nor activation. Prolonged incubation in lower concentrations of all antidepressants influenced neither priming nor activation. However, at higher concentrations, all four compounds exerted cytotoxic effects: virtually all hPMNs were killed by amitriptyline and imipramine (both at 10(-3) M) or nortriptyline and fluoxetine (both at 10(-4) M).


Antidepressants, in low concentrations, inhibited priming but not activation of hPMNs. However, at concentrations similar to those attained after local injection, and in marked contrast to local anesthetics, antidepressants are profoundly toxic to hPMNs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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