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Eur J Pharmacol. 1997 Dec 11;340(2-3):121-32.

Anti-anhedonic actions of the novel serotonergic agent flibanserin, a potential rapidly-acting antidepressant.

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Department of Psychology, University of Wales, Swansea, UK.


Chronic exposure to mild unpredictable stress has previously been found to depress the consumption of palatable sweet solutions and to block the formation of conditioned place preferences; these effects are reversed by chronic treatment with tricyclic or atypical antidepressant drugs. The present study was designed to evaluate the antidepressant-like activity in this model of flibaserin (BIMT-17), a novel serotonergic agent with 5-HT1A receptor agonist and 5-HT2 receptor antagonist properties. Two experiments were conducted, using rats (experiment 1) and mice (experiment 2). In experiment 1, decreases in sucrose intake were seen in rats exposed to chronic mild stress, but the effect was unreliable in this study, and sucrose testing was terminated after 7 weeks of stress. Beginning after 5 weeks of stress, groups of control and stressed animals were treated daily with vehicle, fluoxetine (5 mg/kg) or flibanserin (5, 10 or 20 mg/kg). After 6 weeks of treatment, all animals were tested for acquisition of food-reinforced place preference conditioning. Conditioning was seen in all groups other than the vehicle-treated stressed animals. We also tested the locomotor stimulant effect of a single injection of the dopamine D2/D3 receptor agonist quinpirole (0.2 mg/kg). The effect of quinpirole was potentiated by fluoxetine in control animals, and by both fluoxetine and flibanserin (all doses) in stressed animals. In experiment 2, long-lasting decreases in sucrose intake were seen in mice exposed to chronic mild stress. The effects were reversed by chronic (4 weeks) treatment with fluoxetine (5 mg/kg) or flibanserin (2.5 or 5 mg/kg); the full effect of flibanserin was seen after the first injection. All animals received a single injection of raclopride (0.1 mg/kg) immediately prior to a sucrose intake test on day 27 of drug treatment. Raclopride decreased sucrose intake only in the three drug-treated stressed groups. The results support a rapid antidepressant-like action of flibanserin, and suggest that this effect involves sensitization of dopamine D2/D3 receptor-mediated transmission.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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