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Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2007 Jun;192(3):357-71. Epub 2007 Feb 21.

Depletion of serotonin and catecholamines block the acute behavioral response to different classes of antidepressant drugs in the mouse tail suspension test.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.



Few studies have investigated whether the behavioral effects elicited by different types of antidepressant drugs are mediated by either serotonin (5-HT) or the catecholamines norepinephrine (NE) and dopamine (DA).


By depleting 5-HT, or NE and DA, the present study investigated the contributions of these monoamines to the acute behavioral effects of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs; fluoxetine and citalopram) and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (NRIs; desipramine and reboxetine) in the mouse tail suspension test (TST).


Depletion of 5-HT tissue content by para-chlorophenylalanine (PCPA), an inhibitor of tryptophan hydroxylase, completely blocked reductions of immobility by the SSRIs in the TST. In contrast, PCPA did not alter the behavioral effects of the NRIs. Inhibition of catecholamine synthesis by alpha-methyl-para-tyrosine (AMPT) reduced brain NE and DA tissue content, whereas disruption of vesicular storage with reserpine decreased brain NE, DA and 5-HT tissue content. However, neither treatment completely prevented responses to desipramine, fluoxetine, or citalopram in the TST. Depleting both newly synthesized and vesicular components of NE and DA transmission with a combination of reserpine and AMPT completely prevented the behavioral effects of desipramine, reboxetine, and fluoxetine and attenuated those of citalopram. Although PCPA did not alter baseline immobility, AMPT and reserpine increased baseline values in the TST.


These studies demonstrated that endogenous 5-HT synthesis mediates the behavioral effects of SSRIs, but not NRIs, in the TST. In contrast, disruption of the behavioral effects of NRI and SSRI antidepressants required disruption of both catecholamine synthesis and vesicular storage and release mechanisms.

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