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Neuropharmacology. 1983 Mar;22(3 Spec No):433-40.

In search of the mode of action of antidepressants. 5-HTP/tyrosine mixtures in depressions.


For a long time antidepressants have been considered to act via enhancement of central monoaminergic activity (due to reuptake or MAO inhibition). An alternative hypothesis holds that their action is based on down-regulation of monoaminergic activity (due to decrease in density or sensitivity of certain receptor populations). In this paper the likelihood of both hypotheses is discussed and the conclusion reached that the first one is the most plausible. The following arguments are discussed: (1) the 5-HT precursor 5-HTP, which is transformed to 5-HT in the brain, has antidepressant properties; (2) there are indications that the same holds true for tyrosine, a catecholamine precursor transformed in the brain to DA and NA; and (3) evidence was found that the effects of 5-HTP in depression are potentiated by tyrosine. Since activation rather than suppression of monoaminergic activity seems to be linked to antidepressant activity, it seems likely that the signs of decreased monoamine metabolism that have been demonstrated in certain types of depression are the expression of a primary metabolic deficit rather than a phenomenon secondary to receptor hypersensitivity. Further clinical studies of 5-HT/CA precursor combinations in depression are justified.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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