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Int Immunopharmacol. 2005 Mar;5(3):609-18.

The negative immunoregulatory effects of fluoxetine in relation to the cAMP-dependent PKA pathway.

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Department of Psychiatry, University Hospital of Maastricht, Vijverdal P.O. Box 88, 6200 AB Maastricht, The Netherlands.


Recently, we have shown that various types of antidepressants, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as fluoxetine, have negative immunoregulatory effects. These antidepressants suppress the interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma)/interleukin-10 (IL-10) production ratio, which is of critical importance for the determination of the capacity of immunocytes to inhibit or activate monocytic/lymphocytic functions. Since cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) production is stimulated by some antidepressants, and since cAMP inhibits IFN-gamma and stimulates IL-10 production, we postulate that the negative immunoregulatory effects of antidepressants result from their effects on the cAMP-dependent protein kinase A (PKA) pathway. The aim of the present study was to determine whether the negative immunoregulatory effects of fluoxetine may be blocked by antagonists of the cAMP-dependent PKA pathway, such as, e.g., SQ 22536, an adenylate cyclase inhibitor, and Rp-8-Br-cAMPs (Rp-isomer of 8-bromo-adenosine-3',5'-monophosphorothioate), a PKA antagonist. To this end, diluted whole blood collected from 17 normal volunteers was incubated with fluoxetine (10(-6) and 10(-5) M), with or without SQ 22536 (10(-6) and 10(-4) M) and Rp-8-Br-cAMPs (10(-6) and 10(-4) M), afterwards, IFN-gamma, IL-10 and the tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) were determined. Fluoxetine, 10(-6) and 10(-5) M, significantly reduced the production of IFN-gamma and TNF-alpha, and significantly decreased the IFN-gamma/IL-10 production ratio. SQ 22536 and Rp-8-Br-cAMPs were unable to block the suppressant effects of fluoxetine on the IFN-gamma/IL-10 ratio. Rp-8-Br-cAMPs, 10(-4), but not 10(-6) M, normalized the fluoxetine-induced suppression of TNF-alpha production. It is concluded that the suppressant effect of fluoxetine on the IFN-gamma/IL-10 production ratio is probably not related to the induction of the cAMP-dependent PKA pathway, whereas the suppressant effect on TNF-alpha may be related to the induction of PKA. The obtained results suggest that increased activation of the PKA-dependent pathway may constitute an important molecular basis for some (suppression of TNF-alpha production), but not all (suppression of IFN-gamma production), negative immunoregulatory effects of fluoxetine.

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