Functional consequences of central serotonin depletion produced by repeated fenfluramine administration in rats
Baumann MH, Ayestas MA, Rothman RB
Clinical Psychopharmacology Section,
Intramural Research Program,
National Institute on Drug Abuse,
National Institutes of Health,
Baltimore, Maryland 21224, USA.
J Neurosci 1998 Nov 1; 18(21):9069-77


Repeated administration of D,L-fenfluramine (FEN) is known to cause prolonged depletion of forebrain serotonin (5-HT) in animals. Ironically, few studies have evaluated functional consequences of such FEN-induced 5-HT loss. In the present work, we examined neuroendocrine and behavioral responses evoked by acute FEN injection in rats that had previously received a 4 d FEN-dosing regimen known to deplete forebrain 5-HT (D,L-FEN, 20 mg/kg, s.c., b. i.d.). Rats were fitted with indwelling jugular catheters before the study to allow for repeated intravenous challenge injections and stress-free blood sampling. At 1 and 2 weeks after the 4 d dosing regimen, acute FEN (1.5 or 3.0 mg/kg, i.v.) produced dose-related elevations in plasma corticosterone and prolactin; these hormonal responses were markedly attenuated in FEN-pretreated rats. Behavioral effects of acute FEN, namely flat body posture and forepaw treading, were also blunted in FEN-pretreated rats. Interestingly, rats exposed to repeated FEN did not display overt abnormalities in hormonal or behavioral parameters under basal (i.e., unprovoked) conditions, despite dramatic decreases in postmortem tissue levels of 5-HT in numerous brain areas. Our results suggest that FEN-induced 5-HT depletion is accompanied by multiple impairments in 5-HT function. Although the clinical relevance of our data are debatable, the findings clearly show the utility of the FEN challenge test for uncovering in vivo functional deficits that might otherwise go undetected. FEN should remain an important pharmacological tool for determining the role of 5-HT neurons in mediating diverse physiological and behavioral processes.
Serotonin dip
Alexander Shulgin
Serotonergic function
Fenfluramine and mood

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