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PLoS One. 2009 Aug 27;4(8):e6797. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0006797.

Chronic citalopram administration causes a sustained suppression of serotonin synthesis in the mouse forebrain.

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Neuroscience Graduate Program, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA.



Serotonin (5-HT) is a neurotransmitter with important roles in the regulation of neurobehavioral processes, particularly those regulating affect in humans. Drugs that potentiate serotonergic neurotransmission by selectively inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin (SSRIs) are widely used for the treatment of psychiatric disorders. Although the regulation of serotonin synthesis may be an factor in SSRI efficacy, the effect of chronic SSRI administration on 5-HT synthesis is not well understood. Here, we describe effects of chronic administration of the SSRI citalopram (CIT) on 5-HT synthesis and content in the mouse forebrain.


Citalopram was administered continuously to adult male C57BL/6J mice via osmotic minipump for 2 days, 14 days or 28 days. Plasma citalopram levels were found to be within the clinical range. 5-HT synthesis was assessed using the decarboxylase inhibition method. Citalopram administration caused a suppression of 5-HT synthesis at all time points. CIT treatment also caused a reduction in forebrain 5-HIAA content. Following chronic CIT treatment, forebrain 5-HT stores were more sensitive to the depleting effects of acute decarboxylase inhibition.


Taken together, these results demonstrate that chronic citalopram administration causes a sustained suppression of serotonin synthesis in the mouse forebrain. Furthermore, our results indicate that chronic 5-HT reuptake inhibition renders 5-HT brain stores more sensitive to alterations in serotonin synthesis. These results suggest that the regulation of 5-HT synthesis warrants consideration in efforts to develop novel antidepressant strategies.

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