Development of an animal model
of fluoxetine akathisia

Teicher MH, Klein DA, Andersen SL, Wallace P
Department of Psychiatry,
Harvard Medical School,
McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA, USA.
Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry 1995 Dec; 19(8):1305-19


1. Akathisia describes the pattern of intense inner restlessness often associated with neuroleptic and antidepressant treatment. 2. The authors postulated that drug-induced akathisia would be characterized by more position changes and less time spent immobile, in the absence of significant increase in ambulation. In contrast, a psychomotor stimulant would produce both activation and ambulation. 3. Procedures and instruments were developed to test this hypothesis. Adult rats were habituated for 72 hours to the testing environment, and their precise pattern of movements was tracked and recorded (10 reading per second; resolution 0.04 mm) by an infrared motion analysis system. Activity was recorded for a 90 min period after a single injection of sub-stereotypic doses of d-amphetamine (0, 0.3, 1.0 mg/kg) or racemic fluoxetine (0, 3.0, 10.0, 20.0, or 30.0 mg/kg, s.c.). 4. Amphetamine produced both activation and ambulation. Activation was indicated by a decrease in time spent immobile, and an increase in the temporal scaling exponent, which reflects the degree the animal is "acting' in its environment, and the number of position changes. Enhanced locomotion was inferred from marked increases in both the total distance traversed and the ratio of forward movements-to-reversals and a decrease in the spatial scaling exponent, indicative of a less complex and more linear movement pattern. 5. Fluoxetine caused animals to spend more time active, but exerted little effect on locomotion. Activation was indicated by a decrease in time spent immobile and an increase in the temporal scaling exponent and number of position changes. Fluoxetine failed to significantly effect either the ratio of forward movements-to-reversals or the spatial scaling exponent. 6. These findings provide an operational definition and methodology that can be used to differentiate between psychostimulant effects and akathisic effects. This approach may have utility for screening drugs for akathisic potential, for exploring underlying mechanisms, and for developing novel treatments.
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