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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2008 Oct;1139:268-84. doi: 10.1196/annals.1432.042.

Serotonin (5-HT) transporter ligands affect plasma 5-HT in rats.

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Clinical Psychopharmacology Section, Intramural Research Program, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health, DHHS, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.


Dual dopamine (DA)/serotonin (5-HT)-releasing agents are promising candidate medications for stimulant addiction and other disorders. However, certain 5-HT transporter (SERT) substrates are associated with development of idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension (IPAH) and valvular heart disease (VHD). According to the "5-HT hypothesis," SERT substrates increase the risk for developing IPAH and VHD by increasing plasma 5-HT. To test this hypothesis directly, we determined the effects of acute and chronic fenfluramine, and other SERT ligands, on plasma 5-HT in male rats. For acute treatments, rats received i.v. vehicle or test drug (0.3 and 1.0 mg/kg), and serial blood samples were withdrawn. For chronic treatments, vehicle or test drug was infused via osmotic minipump (3 and 10 mg/kg/d) for 2 weeks. On the last day of infusion, rats received i.v. fenfluramine challenge (1 mg/kg), and serial blood samples were withdrawn. Plasma 5-HT was measured using ex vivo microdialysis in whole-blood samples. Baseline plasma 5-HT was <1.0 nM. Acute injection of fenfluramine or other SERT substrates caused large (up to 24-fold) dose-dependent increases in plasma 5-HT. Chronic fenfluramine at 3 and 10 mg/kg/d produced 1.7- and 3.5-fold increases in baseline plasma 5-HT, while chronic fluoxetine had no effect. Chronic infusions of fenfluramine or fluoxetine diminished the ability of acute fenfluramine to elevate dialysate 5-HT, and both drugs markedly reduced whole-blood 5-HT. Acute fenfluramine increases plasma 5-HT to concentrations that are below the micromolar levels necessary to produce adverse cardiovascular effects. Chronic fenfluramine and fluoxetine have minimal effects on plasma 5-HT, suggesting that the increased risk for IPAH associated with fenfluramine does not depend upon elevations in plasma 5-HT.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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