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Epilepsia. 2016 Mar;57(3):506-15. doi: 10.1111/epi.13321. Epub 2016 Jan 27.

Effects of selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors on depressive- and impulsive-like behaviors and on monoamine transmission in experimental temporal lobe epilepsy.

Author information

Department of Pediatrics, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
Department of Pharmacology, University of Texas Health Science Center-San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas, U.S.A.
Department of Neurology, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
UCLA Children's Discovery and Innovation Institute, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.



Examine therapeutic potential of a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) and a norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (NERI) in an animal model of comorbidity between epilepsy, depression-like, and impulsive-like impairments.


Epilepsy was induced in male Wistar rats by LiCl and pilocarpine. An SSRI fluoxetine (FLX), and an NERI reboxetine (RBX) were administered either alone or as a combination over 1 week. Depressive-like and impulsive-like behaviors were examined using the forced swim test. Fast scan cyclic voltammetry was used to analyze serotonergic transmission in the raphe nucleus (RN)-prefrontal cortex (PFC) pathway, and noradrenergic transmission in locus coeruleus (LC)-PFC, and LC-RN projections. Monoamine levels in PFC were measured using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Functional capacities of 5-HT1A receptors and α2A adrenoreceptors in PFC were analyzed by autoradiography.


Epileptic rats showed behavioral signs of depression and hyperimpulsivity, suppressed serotonergic and noradrenergic tones, decreased levels of serotonin (5-HT), and norepinephrine (NE); 5-HT1A receptor and α2A adrenoreceptors functions remained intact. FLX failed to improve behavioral deficits, but effectively raised 5-HT level and marginally improved RN-PFC serotonergic transmission. RBX reversed impulsive-like behavior, normalized content of NE and noradrenergic tone in LC-PFC and LC-RN. FLX-RBX combination fully reversed depressive-like behavior, and normalized RN-PFC serotonergic transmission. None of the treatment modified the function of 5-HT and NE receptors.


Depressive- and impulsive-like behaviors in the pilocarpine model of epilepsy stem respectively from dysfunctions of serotonergic and noradrenergic ascending pathways. At the same time, epilepsy-associated depression is SSRI resistant. The finding that an SSRI-NERI combination exerts antidepressant effect, along with RBX-induced improvement of LC-RN noradrenergic transmission point toward the involvement of LC-RN noradrenergic input in enabling therapeutic potential of FLX. Medications that improve serotonergic and noradrenergic transmission, such as serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors may be effective in treating epilepsy-associated SSRI-resistant depression, as well as concurrent depression and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).


Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder; Depression; Epilepsy; Norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor; Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor

[Available on 2017-03-01]
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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