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Chin J Physiol. 2013 Aug 31;56(4):199-208.

The influences of reserpine and imipramine on the 5-HT2 receptor binding site and its coupled second messenger in rat cerebral cortex.

Author information

  • 1Institute of Neuroscience, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei 11221, Republic of China.
  • 2Pharmacology, Ricerca-Taiwan, 158 Li-Teh Road, Beitou, Taipei 11259, Taiwan, Republic of China.

Erratum in

  • Chin J Physiol. 2013 Oct 31;56(5):306.


An investigation on the molecular mechanism of depression state, less attention was focused on changes at the intracellular messenger level. In this study the effects of reserpine, a monoamine depletor, and imipramine, an antidepressant, on serotonin-2 (5-HT2) receptor binding and its second messenger system of rat cerebral cortex were studied. The level of inositol 4-monophosphate (IP1) accumulation elicited by 100 microM 5-HT via activation of the 5-HT2 receptor on cerebral cortical slices at twelve hours after a single dose of reserpine (2 mg/kg, i.p.) was significantly higher in treated rats, when compared to that of saline-treated rats; this significant level lasted for at least four days. The level of IP1 accumulation in rat cerebral cortical slices elicited by 100 microM serotonin was higher in the group pretreated with reserpine (0.25 mg/kg/day) sub-chronically for seven days than the group pretreated with normal saline. In the receptor binding study, the maximum binding (B(max)) of 5-HT2 receptor binding was increased, when compared to the corresponding controls; whereas, the dissociation equilibrium constant (K(d)) value of the 5-HT2 receptor was found unchanged in the reserpine treated group. Increases in the sensitivity of phosphoinositol (PI) turnover coupled with the 5-HT2 receptor were also found in the long-term (21 days) low dose (0.1 mg/kg/day) administration of reserpine. However, a long-term administration of imipramine (10 mg/kg/day) reduced the function of the PI turnover coupled with the 5-HT2 receptor. Results obtained from the combined use of reserpine and imipramine demonstrated that this combination was able to antagonize the super-sensitivity of the second messenger responses in 5-HT2 receptor induced by long-term treatment with reserpine. Long-term treatment with reserpine but not imipramine also caused an increase in the B(max) of the 5-HT2 receptor. This up-regulation of the 5-HT2 receptor by reserpine could be antagonized by imipramine, if a combined treatment was employed. However, this combination of imipramine with an additional phospholipid liposome did not enhance or decrease the imipramine's effect on the 5-HT2 receptor, or on its coupled second messenger level. In summary, reserpine induced up-regulation of the postsynaptic monoamine receptor and its coupled second messenger responses (such as IP1 formation). Imipramine was capable of antagonizing these same events in a depression animal model with reserpine. This study demonstrated the dynamic changes and adaptability of the receptor system, followed by changes in PI turnover. The results provide an explanation at the molecular level for the bases of depression and the role of antidepressant drugs effects on those pathological linking elements.

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