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Science. 1998 Sep 11;281(5383):1640-5.

Distinct mechanism for antidepressant activity by blockade of central substance P receptors.

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Merck Research Laboratories, West Point, PA 19456, USA.


The localization of substance P in brain regions that coordinate stress responses and receive convergent monoaminergic innervation suggested that substance P antagonists might have psychotherapeutic properties. Like clinically used antidepressant and anxiolytic drugs, substance P antagonists suppressed isolation-induced vocalizations in guinea pigs. In a placebo-controlled trial in patients with moderate to severe major depression, robust antidepressant effects of the substance P antagonist MK-869 were consistently observed. In preclinical studies, substance P antagonists did not interact with monoamine systems in the manner seen with established antidepressant drugs. These findings suggest that substance P may play an important role in psychiatric disorders.

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