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Decreased sensitivity of 5-HT1D receptors in melancholic depression

  • Richard Whale (a1), Elizabeth M. Clifford (a1), Zubin Bhagwagar (a1) and Philip J. Cowen (a1)

Abstract

Background

Brain serotonin (5-HT) function is abnormal in major depression, but the involvement of different 5-HT receptor subtypes has been little studied. The availability of selective ligands now makes it possible to test the sensitivity of 5-HT1D receptors in patients with depression.

Aims

The aim of the study was to use the 5-HT1D receptor agonist, zolmitriptan, to test the sensitivity of 5-HT1D receptors in patients with depression before and after treatment with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

Method

We measured the growth hormone response to zolmitriptan (5 mg orally) in patients with major depression before and after SSRI treatment. A matched sample of healthy subjects acted as a control group.

Results

The growth hormone response to zolmitriptan was blunted in patients with a melancholic depressive syndrome. SSRI treatment produced a marked reduction in zolmitriptan-induced growth hormone release.

Conclusions

Patients with melancholic depression have impaired sensitivity of the post-synaptic 5-HT1D receptors that mediate growth hormone release. The reduction in 5-HT1D receptor sensitivity following SSRI treatment is probably an adaptive response to increased levels of synaptic 5-HT.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

Professor P. J. Cowen, University Department of Psychiatry, Warneford Hospital, Oxford OC3 7JX

Footnotes

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Declaration of interest

None.

Footnotes

References

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Decreased sensitivity of 5-HT1D receptors in melancholic depression

  • Richard Whale (a1), Elizabeth M. Clifford (a1), Zubin Bhagwagar (a1) and Philip J. Cowen (a1)

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Decreased sensitivity of 5-HT1D receptors in melancholic depression

  • Richard Whale (a1), Elizabeth M. Clifford (a1), Zubin Bhagwagar (a1) and Philip J. Cowen (a1)
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