Decreased platelet alpha-2 adrenoceptor density in major depression: effects of tricyclic antidepressants and fluoxetine
Maes M, Van Gastel A, Delmeire L, Meltzer HY
Clinical Research Center for Mental Health,
Antwerp, Belgium.
Biol Psychiatry 1999 Feb 1; 45(3):278-84


BACKGROUND: It has been suggested that major depression is accompanied by a subsensitivity of central alpha 2-adrenoceptors (alpha 2-ARs) and, consequently, by an impaired negative feedback on the presynaptic catecholaminergic neuron, which, in turn, may induce a disinhibition of noradrenergic output and norepinephrine release in response to any activation. METHODS: The maximum number of platelet binding sites (Bmax) and their affinity for [3H]-rauwolscine, a selective alpha 2-AR antagonist, were measured in unmedicated and medicated major depressed patients and in normal volunteers. Specific binding was defined as that inhibited by idazoxan, another alpha 2-AR antagonist. RESULTS: Unmedicated major depressed patients had significantly decreased platelet [3H]-rauwolscine binding Bmax values compared to normal volunteers. [3H]-rauwolscine binding Kd values did not differ significantly between unmedicated major depressed patients and normal controls. [3H]-rauwolscine binding Kd values were significantly higher in depressed patients treated with tricyclic antidepressants than in unmedicated patients. Subchronic treatment with fluoxetine did not significantly alter either [3H]-rauwolscine binding Bmax or Kd values. [3H]-rauwolscine binding Bmax values were significantly greater in men than in women. CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that i) major depression is accompanied by decreased platelet alpha 2-AR density; and that ii) subchronic treatment with tricyclic antidepressants, but not fluoxetine, results in a decreased affinity of rauwolscine for platelet alpha 2-ARs.
Alpha2 adrenoreceptors
Noradrenaline and aging
Noradrenaline and mood
Noradrenaline and anxiety
Noradrenaline and cognition
Noradrenaline and dopamine

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