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J Neural Transm. 1979;44(3):237-48.

Trazodone, a central serotonin antagonist and agonist.


We examined the effect of trazodone (TR), a non-tricyclic antidepressant drug with an unknown mechanism of action, as well as its supposed metabolites beta-(3-oxo-s-triazolo-[4, 3 a]-pyridin-2-yl-propionic acid (OTPA) and 1-(m-chlorophenyl)-piperazine (CPP) on the serotonin (5-HT) -system in a model of the hind limb flexor reflex of the spinal rat. When given alone at low doses (1 mg/kg) TR does not change the flexor reflex but counteracts its serotonergic stimulation induced by LSD, quipazine or fenfluramine. At higher doses (6--8 mg/kg), after a period of latency, it enhances the reflex; this effect is antagonized by the 5-HT receptor blockers (cyproheptadine, WA-335 and metergoline) but not by imipramine. From the two TR metabolites studied only CPP exerts an effect in the flexor reflex model. It considerably enhances (0.05--1 mg/kg) the reflex, this effect being antagonized by cyproheptadine, WA-335 and metergoline, but not by imipramine. Our findings indicate that TR has a double effect on the central 5-HT system: at low doses it acts as a 5-HT antagonist, whereas at higher ones--as a 5-HT agonist. The latter effect may be connected with formation of a metabolite, CPP, or a compound chemically related to CPP.

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