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Eur J Pharmacol. 1998 Jul 3;352(1):23-8.

Combining pindolol and paroxetine in an animal model of chronic antidepressant action--can early onset of action be detected?

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Melbourne, Austin and Repatriation Medical Centre, Heidelberg, Victoria, Australia.


The realisation that pindolol may accelerate the effects of some antidepressant drugs in clinical trials has added extra impetus to the search for faster acting antidepressants. Currently, no animal model of depression can identify potential faster acting antidepressant drugs or drug combinations. In this study, we investigate the effects of combining pindolol (2 mg/kg, s.c., bid) with the antidepressant paroxetine (2.5 mg/kg, i.p., bid) in the olfactory bulbectomised rat, an animal model of chronic (but not acute) antidepressant activity. Ambulation scores were measured in separate groups of rats, following 3, 7 and 14 days of treatment. Further, we simultaneously study adaptive changes in 5-HT1A receptor function, utilising alterations in the hypothermic response to the 5-HT1A receptor agonist 8-hydroxy-2-(di-n-propylamino)tetralin (8-OH-DPAT). Pindolol in combination with paroxetine attenuated the hypothermic effects of 8-OH-DPAT as early as 3 days with a full reversal evident following 7 days, whereas paroxetine alone did so after 14 days only. Likewise, paroxetine alone reversed the olfactory bulbectomy-induced hyperactivity in the open field following 14 days of treatment only, this being the normal time of an 'antidepressant' response in this model. However, the group treated with both paroxetine and pindolol failed to reverse the hyperactive response. This suggests that a factor intrinsic to pindolol antagonises the behavioural effects of paroxetine in the olfactory bulbectomised rat. It also demonstrates that the reversal of this aspect of the olfactory bulbectomy-induced behavioural syndrome is insensitive to the potential faster onset of antidepressant action induced by pindolol. The ability of the combination group to attenuate the hypothermic effects of 8-OH-DPAT much faster further emphasises the role of the 5-HT1A receptor in the mechanism of action of antidepressants and as a target for the development of faster acting antidepressants. However, an animal model sensitive to the effects of any such compound and the actions of pindolol remains elusive.

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