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Br J Clin Pharmacol. 1994 Feb;37(2):181-6.

Comparison of the effects of acute fluvoxamine and desipramine administration on melatonin and cortisol production in humans.

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School of Biological Sciences, University of Surrey, Guildford.


1. Acute administration of the specific serotonin uptake inhibitor, fluvoxamine (100 mg at 16.00 h), markedly increased nocturnal plasma melatonin concentrations, with high levels extending into the morning hours. 2. Acute administration of the noradrenaline uptake inhibitor, desipramine (DMI) (100 mg at 16.00 h), increased evening plasma melatonin concentrations. 3. Both drug treatments increased the duration of melatonin secretion, fluvoxamine significantly delaying the offset time and DMI significantly advancing the onset time. 4. The stimulatory effect of DMI on plasma melatonin was mirrored by increased urinary 6-sulphatoxymelatonin (aMT6s) excretion. 5. On the contrary, there was no correlation between plasma melatonin and urinary aMT6s concentrations following fluvoxamine treatment, suggesting that fluvoxamine may inhibit the metabolism of melatonin. 6. Treatment with DMI increased plasma cortisol concentrations in the evening and early morning, treatment with fluvoxamine increased plasma cortisol at 03.00 h, 10.00 h and 11.00 h. 7. The drug treatments affected different aspects of the nocturnal plasma melatonin profile suggesting that the amplitude of the melatonin rhythm may depend upon serotonin availability and/or melatonin metabolism whilst the onset of melatonin production depends upon noradrenaline availability.

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