Serotonin syndrome from
venlafaxine-tranylcypromine interaction

Gillman PK
Brubacher JR, Hoffman RS, Lurin MJ
New York Poison Control Center, NY 10016, USA.
Vet Hum Toxicol 1996 Oct; 38(5):358-61


Excessive stimulation of serotonin 5HT1A receptors causes a syndrome of serotonin excess that consists of shivering, muscle rigidity, salivation, confusion, agitation and hyperthermia. The most common cause of this syndrome is an interaction between a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) and a specific serotonin reuptake inhibitor. Venlafaxine is a new antidepressant agent that inhibits the reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine. We report a venlafaxine-MAOI interaction that resulted in the serotonin syndrome in a 23-y-old male who was taking tranylcypromine for depression. He had been well until the morning of presentation when he took 1/2 tab of venlafaxine. Within 2 h he became confused with jerking movements of his extremities, tremors and rigidity. He was brought directly to a hospital where he was found to be agitated and confused with shivering, myoclonic jerks, rigidity, salivation and diaphoresis. His pupils were 7 mm and sluggishly reactive to light. Vital signs were: blood pressure 120/67 mm Hg, heart rate 127/min, respiratory rate 28/min, and temperature 97 F. After 180 mg of diazepam i.v. he remained tremulous with muscle rigidity and clenched jaws. He was intubated for airway protection and because of hypoventilation, and was paralyzed to control muscle rigidity. His subsequent course was remarkable for non-immune thrombocytopenia which resolved. The patient's maximal temperature was 101.2 F and his CPK remained < 500 units/L with no other evidence of rhabdomyolysis. His mental status normalized and he was transferred to a psychiatry ward. This patient survived without sequelae due to the aggressive sedation and neuromuscular paralysis.
The serotonin syndrome

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