Indirect in vivo 5-HT1A-agonistic effects of the new antidepressant mirtazapine
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The new antidepressant mirtazapine was tested in two experimental procedures which can reveal direct or indirect 5-HT1A receptor agonistic effects. These procedures were observation for induction of lower lip retraction in rats and comparison of stimulus properties in cross-familiarization experiments with conditioned taste aversion in mice. Mirtazapine induced lower lip retraction in rats, as did the 5-HT1A receptor agonist (±)-8-hydroxy-2-(di-n-propylamino) tetralin (8-OH-DPAT). However, the response to mirtazapine at doses up to 22 mg/kg remained below the maximum score obtained with 8-OH-DPAT (0.46 mg/kg). Blockade of the 5-HT1A receptors with pindolol (10 mg/kg) caused a strong reduction of the lower lip retraction induced both with mirtazapine and 8-OH-DPAT. In the cross-familiarization conditioned taste aversion experiments it was found that the conditioned taste aversion induced by mirtazapine (0.32 mg/kg) could be prevented if the mice were pre-exposed to injections with mirtazapine (0.22 and 0.46 mg/kg), 8-OH-DPAT (0.22 and 0.46 mg/kg) and after pre-exposure to the 5-HT reuptake inhibitor fluoxetine (22 mg/kg). No familiarization for the mirtazapine stimulus was obtained by pre-exposure to (±)-1-(2,5-dimethoxy-4-iodophenyl)-2-aminopropane HCl (DOI) (0.46–4.6 mg/kg) and MK212 (2.2–22 mg/kg), being agonists for the 5-HT2A and 5-HT2C receptors, respectively. With the reversed sequence, the conditioned taste aversion induced by 8-OH-DPAT (0.22 mg/kg), DOI (1.0 mg/kg) and fluoxetine could be prevented only partially by pre-exposure to mirtazapine in a dose of 1 mg/kg. The conditioned taste aversion induced by MK 212 (4.6 mg/kg) was not affected by pre-exposure to mirtazapine (0.1–1.0 mg/kg). On the basis of these results, it can be concluded that mirtazapine has indirect 5-HT1A receptor agonistic properties which may play an important role in the therapeutic effect of this compound.
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