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The antidepressant efficacy of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) might be enhanced by co-administration of 5-HT1A receptor antagonists. Thus, we have recently shown that the selective 5-HT1A receptor antagonist, WAY 100635, blocks the inhibitory effect of an SSRI on 5-HT cell firing, and enhances its ability to elevate extracellular 5-HT in the forebrain. Here we determined whether the beta-adrenoceptor/5-HT1A receptor ligands (+/-)-pindolol, (-)-tertatolol and (-)-penbutolol, interact with paroxetine in a similar manner. Both (-)-tertatolol (2.4 mg kg(-1) i.v.) and (-)-penbutolol (2.4 mg kg(-1) i.v.) enhanced the effect of paroxetine (0.8 mg kg(-1) i.v.) on extracellular 5-HT in the frontal cortex, whilst (+/-)-pindolol (4 mg kg(-1) i.v.) did not. (-)-Tertatolol (2.4 mg kg(-1) i.v.) alone caused a slight increase in 5-HT however, (-)-penbutolol (2.4 mg kg(-1) i.v.) alone had no effect. In electrophysiological studies (-)-tertatolol (2.4 mg kg(-1) i.v.) alone had no effect on 5-HT cell firing but blocked the inhibitory effect of paroxetine. In contrast, (-)-penbutolol (0.1-0.8 mg kg(-1) i.v.) itself inhibited 5-HT cell firing, and this effect was reversed by WAY 100635 (0.1 mg kg(-1) i.v.). We have recently shown that (+/-)-pindolol inhibits 5-HT cell firing via a WAY 100635-sensitive mechanism. Our data suggest that (-)-tertatolol enhances the effect of paroxetine on forebrain 5-HT via blockade of 5-HT1A autoreceptors which mediate paroxetine-induced inhibition of 5-HT cell firing. In comparison, the mechanisms by which (-)-penbutolol enhances the effect of paroxetine on extracellular 5-HT is unclear, since (-)-penbutolol itself appears to have agonist properties at the 5-HT1A autoreceptor. Indeed, the agonist action of (+/-)-pindolol at 5-HT1A autoreceptors probably explains its inability to enhance the effect of paroxetine on 5-HT in the frontal cortex. Overall, our data suggest that both (-)-tertatolol and (-)-penbutolol are superior to (+/-)-pindolol in terms of enhancing the effect of an SSRI on extracellular 5-HT. Both (-)-tertatolol and (-)-penbutolol are worthy of investigation for use as adjuncts to SSRIs in the treatment of major depression.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Pharmacol

Publication Date





145 - 152


Adrenergic beta-Antagonists, Animals, Antidepressive Agents, Drug Synergism, Electrophysiology, In Vitro Techniques, Male, Membrane Potentials, Microdialysis, Paroxetine, Patch-Clamp Techniques, Penbutolol, Pindolol, Propanolamines, Prosencephalon, Raphe Nuclei, Rats, Rats, Sprague-Dawley, Receptors, Presynaptic, Receptors, Serotonin, Serotonin, Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors, Thiophenes