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Pharmacopsychiatry. 1995 Oct;28 Suppl 2:91-2.

The flesinoxan 5-HT1A receptor challenge in major depression and suicidal behavior.

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Psychiatric Unit, C.H.U. du Sart Tilman, Li├Ęge, Belgium.


The prevailing neurochemical theory about biological correlates of suicidal behavior focuses on the serotonergic system. In this study, we assessed the cortisol, ACTH, GH, prolactin and temperature responses to flesinoxan, a5-HT1A agonist, in 30 DSM-III-R major depressed inpatients subgrouped into suicide attempters (n = 15) and nonattempters (n = 15). The patients were assessed after a drug-free period of at least 3 weeks. A subsample of 16 patients completed the Buss-Durkee Hostility Inventory as a measure of impulsive aggressive behavior. Mean delta cortisol responses to flesinoxan were significantly lower in the group of depressed patients with a history of suicide attempts than in the group without history of suicidal behavior: for the delta cortisol values 14.5 +/- 16.3 micrograms/l vs 101 +/- 94 micrograms/l (F = 8.9, df = 5.25, p = 0.006). There was also a very significant difference between suicide attempters and nonattempters for the temperature (delta T degrees) responses to flesinoxan: 0.20 +/- 0.24 degrees C vs. 0.60 +/- 0.24 degrees C (F = 18.1, df = 5.25, p = 0.0003). Hormonal and temperature responses to flesinoxan were not correlated with BDHI irritability or assault subscale scores. The results of the present study support the implication of the serotonergic system, particularly 5-HT1A receptors, in the control of self-directed aggressive behavior. Moreover, in depressed patients, serotonergic abnormalities do not appear to be related to aggressive behavior.

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