Effects of sustained (+/-)pindolol administration
on serotonin neurotransmission in rats

Haddjeri N, Blier P
Centre de recherche en sciences neurologiques,
Universite de Montreal, Que.
J Psychiatry Neurosci 2000 Sep; 25(4):378-88


OBJECTIVE: Given reports that (+/-)pindolol, a beta-adrenergic-5-HT1A/1B receptor antagonist, accelerates the onset of the therapeutic effect of certain antidepressant drugs in major depression, the aim of this study was to assess the effect of sustained (+/-)pindolol administration on the sensitivity of pre- and postsynaptic 5-HT1A receptors, terminal 5-HT1B autoreceptors and on overall 5-HT neurotransmission. DESIGN: Prospective animal study. ANIMALS: Sprague-Dawley rats. OUTCOME MEASURES: Modifications of the sensitivity of somatodendritic and postsynaptic 5-HT1A receptors using in vivo electrophysiological paradigms in animals treated with vehicle or (+/-)pindolol (20 mg/kg/day, subcutaneously) through osmotic minipumps for 2 weeks. RESULTS: (+/-)Pindolol attenuated the suppressant effect of the 5-HT autoreceptor agonist lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) on the firing activity of 5-HT neurons, suggesting that (+/-)pindolol antagonized somatodendritic 5-HT1A autoreceptors in the dorsal raphe nucleus. However, following a 2-day washout period, the suppressant effect of LSD was still attenuated, indicating rather a desensitization of 5-HT1A autoreceptors had occurred. In the CA3 region of the dorsal hippocampus, (+/-)pindolol treatment did not modify the responsiveness of postsynaptic 5-HT1A receptors to microiontophoretic applications of 5-HT. Moreover, such a treatment modified neither the effectiveness of the electrical stimulation of 5-HT fibers nor the function of terminal 5-HT autoreceptors. Finally, the administration of the selective 5-HT1A receptor antagonist WAY 100635 (100 micrograms/kg, intravenously) did not increase the firing activity of dorsal hippocampus CA3 pyramidal neurons in rats treated with (+/-)pindolol, thus failing to reveal the enhanced tonic activation of postsynaptic 5-HT1A receptors associated with major classes of antidepressant treatments. CONCLUSION: Prolonged administration of (+/-)pindolol by itself is not sufficient to enhance overall 5-HT neurotransmission; pindolol should therefore not be endowed with intrinsic antidepressant activity. Although pindolol is capable of antagonizing the 5-HT1A autoreceptor upon the initiation of a 5-HT reuptake-blocker treatment, it also induces a desensitization of this 5-HT1A autoreceptor, which could explain why patients do not relapse upon its discontinuation when they continue taking a 5-HT reuptake blocker.
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