European neuropsychopharmacology: the journal of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology

Published by Elsevier
Online ISSN: 0924-977X
Publications
Article
This study evaluated the efficacy and safety of two fixed doses of aripiprazole (15 mg/day, n = 131 and 30 mg/day, n = 136) compared with placebo (n = 134) in acutely manic or mixed bipolar I hospitalized patients. The mean change from baseline to Week 3 in the YMRS Total Scores was -10.01 (95% CI: -11.92, -8.09) for aripiprazole 15 mg/day, -10.80 (95% CI: -12.71, -8.90) for aripiprazole 30 mg/day, and -10.12 (95% CI: -12.01, -8.24) for placebo. The most frequent adverse events (> or = 10% and greater than placebo) for either of the aripiprazole treatment groups were headache, nausea, dyspepsia, insomnia, agitation, constipation, akathisia, anxiety, lightheadedness, vomiting, diarrhea, asthenia and extremity pain. Aripiprazole 15 or 30 mg/day was not significantly more effective than placebo in the treatment of bipolar I disorder acute mania at endpoint (Week 3). A high placebo response rate may have accounted for the lack of separation between treatment groups.
 
Article
The discovery and evaluation of high affinity dopamine transport inhibitors with low abuse liability is an important step toward the development of efficacious medications for cocaine addiction. We examined in mice the behavioural effects of (N-(n-butyl)-3alpha-[bis(4'-fluorophenyl)methoxy]-tropane) (JHW 007), a benztropine (BZT) analogue that blocks dopamine uptake, and assessed its potential to influence the actions of cocaine in clinically-relevant models of cocaine addiction. In the conditioned place preference (CPP) paradigm, JHW 007 exposure did not produce place conditioning within an ample dose range but effectively blocked the CPP induced by cocaine administration. Similarly, in the CPP apparatus JHW 007 treatment failed to stimulate locomotor activity at any dose but dose-dependently suppressed the hyperactivity evoked by cocaine treatment. In locomotor sensitization assays performed in the open field, JHW 007 did not produce sensitized locomotor behaviour when given alone, but it prevented the sensitized component of the locomotor response elicited by subchronic (8-day) cocaine exposure. In the elevated plus maze (EPM), acute treatment with JHW 007, cocaine and combinations of the BZT analogue and cocaine produced an anxiogenic-like profile. Re-test in the EPM following subchronic (8-day) exposure enhanced the anxiogenic-like effect of the same drug treatments. The present findings indicate that JHW 007 exposure counteracts some critical behavioural correlates of cocaine treatment, including conditioned reward, locomotor stimulation and sensitization, and lend support to the further development of BZT analogues as potential replacement medications in cocaine addiction.
 
Article
SNRIs (serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors) have been proposed to exert increased therapeutic efficacy or be faster acting compared to commonly used antidepressants. In this study, we performed in vitro binding and uptake assays and in vivo behavioral tests to assess the pharmacological properties and antidepressant-like efficacy of the compound 071031B; we also performed cytotoxicity tests using HepG2 cells and SH-SY5Y cells to predict the toxicity of 071031B. In vitro, 071031B had high affinity for both serotonin transporters and norepinephrine transporters prepared from rat cortex tissue (K(i)=2.68 and 1.09nM, respectively) and recombinant cells (K(i)=1.57 and 0.36nM, respectively). Moreover, 071031B also potently inhibited the uptake of serotonin (5-HT) and norepinephrine (NE) into rat cortical synaptosomes (K(i)=1.99 and 1.09nM, respectively) and recombinant cells (K(i)=3.23 and 0.79nM, respectively). In vivo, acute administration of 071031B dose-dependently reduced the immobility time in the tail suspension test in mice and the forced swimming test in mice and rats with higher efficacy than duloxetine and showed no stimulatory effect on the locomotor activity. Chronic 071031B treatment (5 or 10mg/kg) significantly reversed depressive-like behaviors in chronically stressed rats, including reduced sucrose preference, decreased locomotor activity, and prolonged latency to begin eating. Furthermore, 071031B also exhibited lower cytotoxicity in HepG2 cells and SH-SY5Y cells in vitro than duloxetine. These findings suggest that 071031B is a novel, balanced serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, with more potent antidepressant effects and lower hepatotoxicity and neurotoxicity in vitro than duloxetine.
 
Article
The role of 5-HT1A and 5-HT2 receptors in mediating foot-shock-induced ultrasonic vocalisation has been studied in rats. Furthermore, behavioural effects were correlated to receptor reserves in the brain by means of receptor inactivation with N-ethoxycarbonyl-2-ethoxy-1,2-dihydroquinoline (EEDQ). The dose-dependent inhibition of ultrasonic vocalisation by the 5-HT precursor, L-5-hydroxy-L-tryptophan (110-450 mu mol/kg), was abolished by pretreatment with the 5-HT1A/1B antagonist, (-)-penbutolol (27 mu mol/kg), and the 5-HT2A/2C antagonist, ritanserin (10 mu mol/kg). The inhibitory actions of the 5-HT1A receptor agonist 8-hydroxy-2-(di-n-propylamino)tetralin (8-OH-DPAT) and the 5-HT2A/5-HT2C agonist, 1-(2,5-dimethoxy-4-iodophenyl)-2-aminopropane (DOI) were reversed by the 5-HT1A antagonist, (N-[2-[4-(2-methoxyphenyl)-1-piperazinyl]ethyl]-N-(2-pyridinyl) cyclohexanecarboxamide (WAY-100 635), and the 5-HT2A antagonist, (+/-)alpha-(2,3-dimethoxyphenyl)-1-[2-(4-fluorphenyl)ethyl]-4-piperidine-methanol (MDL 100 151), respectively. Pretreatment with EEDQ (24 h, subcutaneous [s.c.]) inhibited foot-shock-induced ultrasonic vocalisation (effective dose(50)=0.95 mu mol/kg) and decreased [H-3]-8-OH-DPAT and [H-3]-ketanserin binding in the brain. Pretreatment with WAY 100 635 (0.3-20 mu mol/kg) 20 min prior to EEDQ administration (1.3 mu mol/kg, s.c.) did not reverse the EEDQ-induced inhibition of ultrasonic vocalisation but protected the 5-HT1A receptors against EEDQ inactivation. Pretreatment with MDL 100 151 (0.83-54 mu mol/kg) 20 min prior to EEDQ administration both reversed the EEDQ-induced inhibition of ultrasonic vocalisation and protected the 5-HT2A receptors against EEDQ inactivation. These findings demonstrate that 5-HT1A and 5-HT2 receptors are involved in the regulation of ultrasonic vocalisation in rats. However, the function of 5-HT1A and 5-HT2 receptors in this model seems to differ as vocalisation was preserved after protection of 5-HT2 but not 5-HT1A recepeors.
 
Article
The β-phenylethylamines are known to act as ligands for the trace amine receptors, a novel family of G-protein-coupled receptors. The trace amines are stored and released along with various neurotransmitter agents such as norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine and thus work as neuromodulator or neurotransmitter agents. Trace amines are known to play an important role in the pathophysiology of major depression. In our earlier study, we have demonstrated the synthesis of various β-substituted phenylethylamine molecules hypothesized to be effective in various central nervous system disorders. The present study is an attempt to evaluate one of such molecules, 1-(7-methoxy-2-methyl-1,2,3,4-tetrahydro-isoquinolin-4-yl)-cyclohexanol, in animal models of depression. Various behavioral paradigms of despair such as forced swim and tail-suspension tests were used to assess the antidepressant-like activity. Further, an alteration in the levels of various neurotransmitters (norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine) in the mouse brain following 1-(7-methoxy-2-methyl-1,2,3,4-tetrahydro-isoquinolin-4-yl)-cyclohexanol administration was evaluated. The molecule (4-16 mg/kg., i.p.) dose-dependently inhibited the immobility period in mouse forced swim test, the effect comparable to venlafaxine. The ED50 values of 1-(7-methoxy-2-methyl-1,2,3,4-tetrahydro-isoquinolin-4-yl)-cyclohexanol and venlafaxine in mouse forced swim test were found to be 5.27 [4.38-6.35] mg/kg., i.p and 4.66 [3.48-6.25] mg/kg., i.p., respectively. Further, 1-(7-methoxy-2-methyl-1,2,3,4-tetrahydro-isoquinolin-4-yl)-cyclohexanol at 4-16 mg/kg., i.p. reversed the immobility period in mouse tail-suspension test. Additionally, the molecule at 8 mg/kg., i.p. reversed reserpine-induced behavioral despair in mouse forced swim test. When administered simultaneously, it (4 and 8 mg/kg., i.p) enhanced the antidepressant activity of sub-effective doses of imipramine (2mg/kg., i.p.) or fluoxetine (2mg/kg., i.p.) in the mouse forced swim test. Neurochemical analysis revealed that the molecule at 8 mg/kg., i.p. increased the levels of norepinephrine (21% increase) without affecting serotonin in the mouse brain. However, at higher dose (16 mg/kg., i.p.), it increased the levels of norepinephrine (13% increase), serotonin (37% increase), and dopamine (42% increase). The molecule enhanced the locomotor activity in mice only at higher doses. The molecule, unlike venlafaxine, which potentiated barbiturate-induced hypnosis, was devoid of any sedative activity. In conclusion, 1-(7-methoxy-2-methyl-1,2,3,4-tetrahydro-isoquinolin-4-yl)-cyclohexanol, possess antidepressant-like activity in animal models of depression by modulating the neurotransmitter levels in the brain. Such an activity might be due to the modulating action of this novel molecule on trace amine receptors. Such a molecule may be the future drugs of choice for the treatment of major depression.
 
Article
Glutapyrone, a disodium salt of 2-(2,6-dimethyl-3,5-diethoxycarbonyl-1,4-dihydropyridine-4-carboxamido)- glutaric acid, is a representative of a novel 'class' of amino acid-containing 1,4-dihydropyridine (DHP) compounds developed at the Latvian Institute of Organic Synthesis, Riga, Latvia. Conceptually, the glutapyrone molecule can be regarded as a dipeptide-mimicking structure formed by the "free" amino acid (glutamate) moiety and "crypto" (built into the DHP cycle) amino acid ("GABA") elements. Both of these amino acids are joined by the peptide bond. This compound unlike classical DHPs lacks calcium antagonistic or agonistic properties. Our previous studies revealed a profound and long-term anticonvulsant, stress-protective and neurodeficit-preventive activities of glutapyrone. In view of structural properties the role of glutamatergic mechanisms in the mediation of central effects of glutapyrone was considered. In the present study glutapyrone at the concentration range of 1 microM(-1) mM failed to effect both NMDA ([3H]TCP) and non-NMDA ([3H]KA and [3H]AMPA) receptor ligand binding in the rat cortical membranes in vitro. The compound markedly enhanced motor hyperactivity induced by the NMDA antagonist PCP and the dopamine releasing compound D-amphetamine in the rats. Glutapyrone displayed activity in a variety of animal models relevant for affective/depressive disorders in humans i.e. reserpine-induced ptosis and hypothermia, forced swimming test and open field test. These data indicate that the unusually "broad" pharmacological spectrum of glutapyrone might involve concomitant actions on multiple neurotransmitter systems, particularly, GABA-ergic and the catecholamines. It is discussed whether these functional properties are secondary to action on intracellular events, predominantly, G protein-related since glutapyrone appears to lack direct interactions with a number of receptors including ionotropic glutamate and GABA(A)/Bzd receptors.
 
Article
Homer proteins are associated with both dopaminergic and glutamatergic function. In addition, these proteins are implicated in many signal transduction pathways that are also putative targets of the mood stabilizers lithium and valproate (VPA). This study investigated the effect of in vivo chronic administration of therapeutically-relevant doses of lithium and VPA on the expression of the inducible (Homer1a and ania-3) and constitutive (Homer1b/c) isoforms of the Homer1 gene in rat brain, and of two other Homer-related genes: Inositol 1,4,5 trisphosphate receptor (IP3R) and Shank. Homer1b/c was significantly decreased in cortex by VPA, and in striatal and accumbal subregions by both lithium and VPA. Both mood stabilizers reduced Homer1b/c expression in the dorsolateral caudate-putamen, while only VPA decreased gene expression in all other striatal subregions. Shank and IP3R were downregulated by both mood stabilizers in the cortex. Neither chronic lithium nor VPA affected Homer immediate-early genes. These results suggest that lithium and VPA similarly modulate the expression of structural postsynaptic genes with topographic specificity in cortical and subcortical regions. Thus, Homer may represent an additional molecular substrate for mood stabilizers, and a potential link with dopaminergic function.
 
Article
Serotonergic pathways have been related to altered personality patterns in seasonal affective disorder (SAD). The short allele (s) of a polymorphism in the serotonin transporter promoter gene (5-HTTLPR) has been associated with neuroticism and anxiety-related personality traits in healthy volunteers. We investigated personality and 5-HTTLPR in female SAD patients using the Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI). TCI was completed by 56 female patients and 76 age-matched female controls. DNA was genotyped using polymerase chain reaction methods. Subjects homozygous for the long allele (l) were compared to s carriers. Females with SAD had higher scores in Harm Avoidance and lower scores in Novelty Seeking, Self-Directedness and Cooperativeness when compared to controls. Patients carrying the s allele had lower Self-Directedness scores. Our data indicate that females with SAD show altered personality traits. The s allele was associated with lower Self-Directedness scores in SAD patients, whereas there were no significant differences in TCI dimensions between patients and controls in carriers of the long allele.
 
Article
The action of multiple liability genes is responsible for complex phenotypes at the same time, a single gene, could control several phenotypic features. This is the case of human period 3 gene (hper3), mainly involved in the setting of the biologic clock. Some variants of this gene, besides being associated with the Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome, showed a key role in determining evening preference rather than morning one. According to this rationale, we hypothesized that this gene could influence circadian mood fluctuations, in mood disorders. Our study demonstrated that rare genetic variants of hper3 are significantly associated to a number of mood disorders features, such as age of onset, response to SSRIs treatment, circadian mood oscillations and characteristics of temperament. These preliminary results could shed further light on the involvement of circadian genes in various aspects of physiological and psychopathological mechanisms of the brain.
 
Article
The effects of 8-OHDPAT and flesinoxan, two selective 5-HT(1A) receptor agonists, and of WAY 100635, a selective 5-HT(1A) receptor antagonist, on spontaneous sleep were studied in adult rats implanted for chronic sleep recordings. The serotonergic ligands were microinjected directly into the dorsal raphe nucleus (DRN). Direct administration of flesinoxan (25.0-50.0 ng) into the DRN induced a significant increment of REM sleep (REMS) during the second and third 2 h of recording. Microinjection of 8-OHDPAT (50.0 ng) induced similar effects on REMS during the second 2 h of recording. On the other hand, intra-DRN injection of WAY 100635 (12.5-50.0 ng) significantly reduced REMS during the second 2 h recording period. REM sleep values had also decreased significantly during the first 2 h of recording after the 50 ng dose. Pretreatment with WAY 100635 (25.0 or 50.0 ng) prevented the increase of REMS induced by flesinoxan (25.0 ng) during the second two recording hours. Our findings support the proposal that activation of somatodendritic 5-HT(1A) receptors in the DRN increases REMS, whereas their blockade induces the opposite effect.
 
Article
Due to strict exclusion criteria the generalizability of randomized controlled trials appears to be limited. Therefore, outcomes of naturalistically treated depressive inpatients with respect to depression mean scores, response and remission rates were evaluated. This was a multicenter trial, conducted in 12 psychiatric hospitals in Germany with a follow-up period of 4years. Patients were assessed biweekly from admission to discharge with diverse psychopathological rating scales. All patients (n=1014) met DSM-IV criteria for major depressive episode. Results are presented only for the acute inpatient treatment period. Mean inpatient treatment duration was 53.6+/-47.5days. Reduction on depression scales was evident as soon as week 2 and remained significant. Mean HAMD-17 total score decreased from 22.3 to 8.8. A total of 68.9% were classified as responders (> or =50% reduction of the initial HAMD-17 score), whereas 51.9% achieved remission (HAMD-17 total score < or =7). Of those who ultimately achieved response more than 40% did so within the first 2weeks. An individualized naturalistic inpatient treatment approach appears to be beneficial in terms of effectiveness.
 
Article
BL-1020 is a potentially novel antipsychotic, which comprises the typical antipsychotic perphenazine linked by an ester bound to gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), intending a simultaneous dopamine-2 (D(2)) receptor blockade and GABA facilitation in the brain. This positron emission tomography (PET) study, using [(11)C]raclopride, assessed the extent and duration of D(2) receptor occupancy (D(2) RO) and safety for single doses of BL-1020 in healthy male subjects. Overall, this study did not raise any safety concern. Single doses of 16-32 mg BL-1020 caused a dose dependent striatal D(2) RO. The 32 mg dose of BL-1020 resulted in an average D(2) RO of 44% at 4-6 h post dosing (pd), which declined to 33% at 24 h pd. Equimolar doses of BL-1020 and perphenazine resulted in similar D(2) RO at 24 h pd. Pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic analysis predicted that oral once daily administration of 32 mg BL-1020 would result in D(2) ROs ranging from 52 to 66% at a steady state.
 
Article
Unlabelled: Reduced brain gamma-amino-butyric acid (GABA) participates in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia. GABA scarcely penetrates the brain. We evaluated the pharmacological properties of BL-1020, a novel GABA ester of perphenazine. Oral BL-1020 or perphenazine were assessed in acute and subchronic schizophrenia rat models. Catalepsy, serum prolactin, receptor binding profile and cortical (PFC), hippocampal (Hip) and dopamine (DA) levels were determined. Radioactive [14C] labeled BL-1020 was used for pharmacokinetics (PK). Acute and subchronic treatment with BL-1020 antagonized amphetamine-induced hyperactivity, with significantly lower catalepsy and sedation compared to equimolar perphenazine. At the same time, BL-1020 increased DA release in the PFC and Hip. BL-1020 and perphenazine stimulated prolactin secretion equally. BL-1020 displayed strong DA and serotonin (5HT) receptor inhibition (D(2L)K(iz)=0.066 nM, D(2S)K(i)=0.062 nM, 5-HT(2A)K(i)=0.21 nM). PK data revealed that BL-1020 penetrated the brain. Conclusions: The advantages of BL-1020 for treatment of schizophrenia stem from its being a DA/5HT antagonist and a GABAergic agonist that releases cortical DA and antagonizes amphetamine-induced hyperactivity with reduced catalepsy and sedation.
 
Article
There is increasing recognition that obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is not a homogeneous entity. It has been suggested that gender may contribute to the clinical and biological heterogeneity of OCD. Two hundred and twenty patients (n=220; 107 male, 113 female) with DSM-IV OCD (age: 36.40 +/- 13.46) underwent structured interviews. A subset of Caucasian subjects (n=178), including subjects from the genetically homogeneous Afrikaner population (n=81), and of matched control subjects (n=161), was genotyped for polymorphisms in genes involved in monoamine function. Clinical and genetic data were statistically analyzed across gender. Compared with females, males with OCD (1) had an earlier age of onset, and a trend toward having more tics and worse outcome, (2) had somewhat differing patterns of OCD symptomatology and axis I comorbidity, and (3) in the Caucasian group, were more likely to have the high activity T allele of the EcoRV variant of the monoamine oxidase A (MAO-A) gene compared to controls, and (4) in the Afrikaner subgroup, were more frequently homozygous for the G allele at the G861C variant of the 5HT1Dbeta gene than controls. Females with OCD (1) reported more sexual abuse during childhood than males, (2) often noted changes in obsessive-compulsive symptoms in the premenstrual/menstrual period as well as during/shortly after pregnancy, and with menopause, and (3) in the Caucasian subgroup, were more frequently homozygous for the low activity C allele of the EcoRV variant of the MAO-A gene compared to controls, with this allele also more frequent in female patients than controls. This study supports the hypothesis that gender contributes to the clinical and biological heterogeneity of OCD. A sexually dimorphic pattern of genetic susceptibility to OCD may be present. Further work is, however, needed to delineate the mechanisms that are responsible for mediating the effects of gender.
 
Article
Phosphodiesterase 10A (PDE10A) mRNA and protein levels decline in the striatum of R6/1 and R6/2 Huntington's disease (HD) mice prior to motor symptom development. In human HD, PDE10A protein levels are significantly decreased in the caudate-putamen of patients with grade 3 HD compared to age-matched controls. To test whether the loss of PDE10A activity in the striatum was detrimental to normal brain function, we treated wild-type (WT) mice with chronic administration of papaverine, which is a specific inhibitor of PDE10A. At 7 weeks of age, mice were introduced to a weekly battery of motor tests, including assessment of weight, locomotion, gait, and coordination. Beginning at 8 weeks of age, mice received 0, 5, 10 or 20 mg/kg papaverine once daily until the completion of behavioral testing. Following 14 days of papaverine injections, mice were assessed for deficits in cognitive performance as measured in the Morris water maze (MWM). All behavioral tests occurred either immediately prior to or 30 min following a subcutaneous papaverine challenge dose. Twenty-four hours following completion of the 2-3 week MWM protocol, mice were given a dose of papaverine and 30 min later psychological function assessed in the Light-Dark (LD) Test. Chronic administration of papaverine for 42 days was associated with distinct motor perturbations, mild cognitive disturbance and anxiety-like behaviors. Subsequently, we assessed the effect of 14 days papaverine (i.e. sub-chronic) treatment on psychological function of WT and R6/1 HD mice. While sub-chronic papaverine induced anxiety-like behavior in WT mice, it appeared to have little effect on the behavior of R6/1 HD mice. Finally, a separate group of 6-week old WT and R6/2 HD mice were treated for 21 days with saline or 10 mg/kg fluoxetine, an agent with anxiolytic and anti-depressant effects, in order to compare the effects of papaverine and fluoxetine on anxiety-like behavior in the LD test. CREB and PDE10A protein levels in striatum and hippocampus were determined by western blot. While papaverine treatment reduced CREB protein levels in the hippocampus and striatum, fluoxetine increased CREB in the hippocampus. These data suggest that papaverine and fluoxetine may produce quite different effects on behavior; these behaviors may be linked to CREB expression in brain regions associated with motor and cognitive functions. PDE10A protein levels were decreased by both papaverine and fluoxetine. Chronic PDE10A inhibition produced a variety of behavioral and central neurochemical deficits and these effects were exacerbated by stress. The unique localization of PDE10A and its apparent role in basal ganglia function may underlie its role in psychiatric and neurological disorders involving the basal ganglia.
 
Article
Experimental design of behavioral studies in animals generally includes placebo-treated controls. However, when placebo is administered by injection in experimental models of psychiatric diseases such as depression, where stress may affect the execution of the behavioral test, it is possible that injection per se may influence the behavioral response. Rats injected with clomipramine hydrochloride (1, 10 or 50 mg/kg), as compared to animals injected with physiological saline as placebo, showed a dose-dependent decrease of the immobility time in the despair test and of the number of floor units explored in the open field in the reserpine test. However, when animals injected with placebo or clomipramine 50 mg/kg were compared with untreated intact controls, it was found that the immobility time in the despair test was higher in the placebo-treated animals than in untreated intact controls. A difference was found between clomipramine-injected animals and untreated intact controls. In contrast, rats tested in the reserpine test, which is based on repeated drug injections, no difference was found between placebo-treated animals and untreated intact controls. These results indicate that stressful procedure of the experimental design may change the response of animals in behavioral tests. Studies with experimental models of depression, where stressful procedures are used, should include a control group of untreated intact animals.
 
Article
The pharmacokinetics of carbamazepine (CBZ) and its active 10,11-epoxide metabolite (CBZ-E) were evaluated after intravenous and oral administration of 5 mg/kg CBZ to rats with hyperlipidemia induced by poloxamer 407 (HL rats) and controls. The total area under the plasma concentration-time curve (AUC) of CBZ in HL rats after intravenous administration was significantly greater than that in controls due to their slower non-renal clearance (CL(NR)). This was due to slower hepatic CL(int) for metabolism of CBZ to CBZ-E in HL rats via CYP3A1/2. This result was consistent with a previous study indicating reduced hepatic CYP3A1/2 expression in HL rats. Interestingly, the AUC of CBZ-E was also increased in HL rats, while AUC(CBZ-E)/AUC(CBZ) ratios remained unchanged. These results suggested that further metabolism of CBZ-E to the inactive metabolite trans-10,11-dihydoxyl-10,11-dihydro-CBZ (CBZ-D) via microsomal epoxide hydrolase (mEH) was also slowed in HL rats. The significantly reduced hepatic mRNA level and expression of mEH protein in HL rats compared to controls confirmed the above hypothesis. Similar pharmacokinetic changes were observed in HL rats after oral administration of CBZ. These findings have potential therapeutic implications assuming that the HL rat model qualitatively reflects similar changes in patients with hyperlipidemia. Caution is required regarding pharmacotherapy in the hyperlipidemic state in cases where drugs that are metabolized principally by CYP3A1/2 or mEH and have a narrow therapeutic range are in use.
 
Article
Concentrations of the monoamine metabolites homovanillic acid (HVA), 5-hydroxy-indoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) and 4-hydroxy-3-methoxyphenylglycol (HMPG) were determined in lumbar cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of 114 healthy individuals, 18-88 years of age, without histories, symptoms or signs of central nervous system dysfunction. The mean values (+/- SD) were 253 +/- 109 nmol/l for HVA, 125 +/- 54 nmol/l for 5-HIAA, 47 +/- 10 nmol/l for HMPG, and 2.10 +/- 0.52 for the HVA/5-HIAA ratio. Analyses of confounding factors revealed that all metabolites correlated negatively with body height, the values being lower in taller than in shorter individuals. This is probably attributable to a larger surface area for monoamine metabolite transport from the subarachnoid space in taller than in shorter individuals. These correlations make statistical adjustment for body height important in analyses of monoamine metabolite levels. Without considering body height, all monoamine metabolites showed a positive correlation with age, and higher levels of HVA and 5-HIAA were found in women than men. After statistical adjustment for the influence of body height, no differences in CSF monoamine metabolites levels were found between the sexes, and only 5-HIAA showed a positive correlation with age. There were no significant seasonal variations for any of the monoamine metabolites.
 
Article
We radiolabelled mirtazapine, a tetracyclic, atypical, antidepressant drug, for positron emission tomography (PET) and evaluated its regional kinetics in the living porcine brain. We produced [N-methyl-11C]mirtazapine with a radiochemical-purity >98% in a 21% decay-corrected radiochemical yield by alkylation of N-desmethyl mirtazapine with [11C]methyl iodide, followed by HPLC purification and formulation. [N-Methyl-11C]mirtazapine entered the brain readily and, under baseline conditions, it had an apparent volume of distribution (V(e)') of 9-13 in the basal ganglia, thalamus, and frontal cortex. Reference region and graphical analyses based on a one-compartment model showed that the binding of [N-methyl-11C]mirtazapine was reversible, with an apparent binding potential of more than two in thalamus and frontal cortex. Infusion of unlabelled mirtazapine markedly displaced [N-methyl-11C]mirtazapine from binding sites in the basal ganglia, thalamus and frontal cortex, but not in reference regions (cerebellum and olfactory tubercle). Thus, [N-methyl-11C]mirtazapine showed rapid passage into the living brain, slow metabolism in blood, and reversible, competitive binding, which may make it useful for PET neuroimaging of neuroreceptors involved in antidepressant actions.
 
Article
Low serotonin neurotransmission is thought to increase vulnerability to suicidal behavior. To test this hypothesis, we measured brain regional serotonin synthesis, as indexed by PET and alpha-[(11)C]methyl-L-tryptophan trapping, in 10 patients who had made a high-lethality suicide attempt and 16 healthy controls. Compared to healthy controls, suicide attempters had reduced normalized alpha-[(11)C]methyl-L-tryptophan trapping in orbital and ventromedial prefrontal cortex. alpha-[(11)C]Methyl-L-tryptophan trapping in these regions correlated negatively with suicide intent. Low serotonin synthesis in the prefrontal cortex might lower the threshold for suicidal behavior.
 
Article
Previously, we used positron emission tomography (PET) for studying the pharmacokinetics of rac-[11C]mirtazapine in living brain. Our findings showed that rac-[11C]mirtazapine has suitable properties for PET neuroimaging. However, separate studies of enantiomers are typically required for characterizing the pharmacokinetics of a racemic drug. Therefore, we have determined the whole-body distribution and brain pharmacokinetics of S- and R-[11C]mirtazapine in pigs. The enantiomers of [11C]mirtazapine produced similar effective doses of radioactivity in most body organs, except for the brain, in which the dose was approximately 40% higher after injection of S-[11C]mirtazapine than the antipode. Kinetic analyses of dynamic brain PET recordings showed that values for regional accumulation of compound (k3) were significantly higher for S-[11C]mirtazapine than for the antipode, while the values for clearance of compounds from tissue to circulation (k2) were consistently lower for S-[11C]mirtazapine than for the R-form. No reliable difference occurred in the rate of metabolism of S- and R-[11C]mirtazapine in the bloodstream of the pigs. The present findings indicate that enantioselective processes affect the cerebral pharmacokinetics of rac-mirtazapine.
 
Article
The substance P/neurokinin 1 (SP/NK1) system has been implicated in the processing of negative affect. Its role seems complex and findings from animal studies have not been easily translated to humans. Brain imaging studies on NK1 receptor distribution in humans have revealed an abundance of receptors in cortical, striatal and subcortical areas, including the amygdala. A reduction in NK1 receptors with increasing age has been reported in frontal, temporal, and parietal cortices, as well as in hippocampal areas. Also, a previous study suggests sex differences in cortical and subcortical areas, with women displaying fewer NK1 receptors. The present PET study explored NK1 receptor availability in men (n=9) and women (n=9) matched for age varying between 20 and 50years using the highly specific NK1 receptor antagonist [(11)C]GR205171 and a reference tissue model with cerebellum as the reference region. Age by sex interactions in the amygdala and the temporal cortex reflected a lower NK1 receptor availability with increasing age in men, but not in women. A general age-related decline in NK1 receptor availability was evident in the frontal, temporal, and occipital cortices, as well as in the brainstem, caudate nucleus, and thalamus. Women had lower NK1 receptor availability in the thalamus. The observed pattern of NK1 receptor distribution in the brain might have functional significance for brain-related disorders showing age- and sex-related differences in prevalence.
 
Article
The brain binding kinetics and distribution of the antidepressant venlafaxine, labelled with 11C in the O-methyl position, was studied by PET after intravenous injection in anesthetized pigs. In addition, venlafaxine's action on serotonin (5-HT) uptake was studied in vitro in blood platelets obtain from humans or pigs. Venlafaxine resembled imipramine, paroxetine and citalopram in causing a dose-dependent inhibition of 5-HT uptake in blood platelets from pigs and humans. Venlafaxine-derived radioactivity entered the living brain readily and showed higher binding potentials in diencephalic and telencephalic regions than in cerebellum. Acute administration of an antidepressant drug (i.e. imipramine, citalopram or paroxetine) enhanced the distribution and altered the binding of venlafaxine in certain brain regions. The findings show that [11C]venlafaxine is not an ideal PET radiotracer mainly because of its relatively low binding potentials and its lack of specificity for the 5-HT transporter in living brain.
 
Article
The importance of the opioid receptor system in substance dependence is increasingly recognised. We used PET with the non-selective tracer [11C]diprenorphine to examine opioid receptor binding in early abstinence from alcohol dependence and the relationship to craving. We recruited 11 alcohol dependent patients and 13 controls. Subjects underwent one [11C]diprenorphine PET scan in early abstinence from dependent alcohol use (approximately 2 weeks) and 2 months later if continuously abstinent. Global and regional [11C]diprenorphine volumes of distribution (VD) were increased in alcohol dependent patients compared with controls but did not reach significance. We demonstrated a correlation between global and regional [11C]diprenorphine VD and craving in alcohol dependent patients which persisted in the anterior cingulate cortex into extended abstinence. This confirms previous work showing increased opioid receptor availability in early abstinence from substances of abuse and correlation with craving suggesting that the opioid system plays a fundamental role in this phase of addiction.
 
Article
Dysfunctions of central monoaminergic systems are important elements of the leading biological hypotheses of suicide and depression. The purpose of the present paper was to study the levels and the relationships between the serotonin metabolite 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA), the dopamine metabolite homovanillic acid (HVA) and the norepinephrine metabolite 3-methoxy-4-hydroxyphenylglycol (MHPG) in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in 120 hospitalised suicide attempters and 47 controls (healthy volunteers or patients admitted for minor surgery). The suicide attempters showed significantly lower HVA levels (174+/-82 vs. 216+/-96 nmol/L, P=0.004), HVA/5HIAA ratios (1.6+/-0.5 vs. 2.1+/-0.6, P=0.0001) and HVA/MHPG ratios (4.2+/-2.1 vs. 4.8+/-1.7, P=0.02) than the controls. The correlations between the monoamine metabolites were markedly lower in patients than in controls. CSF 5-HIAA showed no significant differences between patients and controls (107+/-40 vs. 108+/-51 nmol/L) or between violent and non-violent attempters (112+/-58 vs. 105+/-33 nmol/L). The monoamine metabolites showed no significant differences between survivors and patients who subsequently completed suicide, or between suicide attempters subgrouped by psychiatric diagnoses. The results suggest that low HVA levels and altered relationships between the monoamine metabolites are associated with suicidal behaviour.
 
Article
This study investigated the ability of a high-resolution pinhole single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) system, with [(123)I]beta-CIT as a radiotracer, to detect 3,4-methelenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, 'Ecstasy')-induced loss of serotonin transporters (SERTs) in the living rat brain. In vivo striatal and thalamic [(123)I]beta-CIT binding ratios, representing specific binding to dopamine and serotonin transporters, respectively, were determined 7 days before as well as 10 days after treatment of rats with neurotoxic doses of MDMA using SPECT. At the end of the experiment, radioactivity ratios were also determined ex vivo, and compared to control data. Both in vivo and ex vivo, thalamic, but not striatal, uptake ratios were statistical significantly reduced after MDMA treatment. These data show that [(123)I]beta-CIT SPECT may be able to detect MDMA-induced loss of SERTs. Therefore, this may be a promising technique to perform serial studies on MDMA-induced serotonergic neurotoxicity in living small animals.
 
Article
There is as yet no definite prognostic marker to determine whether a first-episode psychosis will become schizophrenia or not. The aim of the present study is to address whether the mechanism of sensitization of the subcortical dopaminergic pathway - yielding to an increase of the postsynaptic D2 receptors - may serve as a prognostic marker of clinical outcome in drug naïve patients with a first-episode psychosis, by means of a prospective and multicentric study with untreated first-episode psychosis patients (n=37). 123I-IBZM SPECT was performed at the time of the inclusion in the study, before antipsychotic medication was initiated. One year later, patients were assessed again so as to determine their diagnosis. There was a significant group effect at baseline in D2 Striatal/Frontal (S/F) ratios (F=10.2, p<0.001). Bonferroni posthoc comparisons attested significant differences between diagnosis (p=0.006), and between schizophrenia and control groups (p<0.001) but no differences between non-schizophrenia and control groups (p=0.9). The logistic regression model showed that D2R binding (p=0.02) and PAS (Premorbid Adjustment Scale) adulthood score (p=0.03) were predictive of the final diagnosis (schizophrenia/non-schizophrenia; Nagelkerke R(2)=0.59; X(2)=11.08, p=0.001). These findings replicate previous results on the usefulness of D2R binding as an objective prognostic parameter, together with the evaluation of premorbid adjustment, of the evolution of first-episode psychosis. In this regard, the results may provide a new view in the approach of early and personalized treatment in the debut of a psychosis.
 
Article
There is evidence that Tourette's disorder (TD) is associated with abnormalities in the dopaminergic system involving the dopamine transporter (DAT). Data from [(123)I]-beta-CIT single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) studies and postmortem findings concerning DAT densities in TD patients are not conclusive. The objective of our study was to measure DAT densities with [(123)I]-beta-CIT binding in TD patients who were either psychotropic drug naive or currently treated with antipsychotics (AP) and healthy controls. Altogether 20 TD patients were investigated. A total of 15 patients were psychotropic drug naive and five were currently treated with AP. Ten psychotropic drug naive patients were compared with ten age and sex matched healthy subjects. Five currently treated patients were compared with five age and sex matched psychotropic drug naive TD patients. The investigation was carried out using [(123)I]-beta-CIT (2-beta-carbomethoxy-3-beta(4-iodophenyl)-tropane and SPECT. Regions of interest (ROI) were drawn over the striatum and the cerebellum. The DAT densities measured by the striatal/cerebellar (S/C) binding ratio did not differ between drug naive TD patients and the controls. The difference between currently AP treated and psychotropic drug naive TD patients did not reach the level of significance. There was no correlation between the ratio and severity of tics and illness. Our study with psychotropic drug naive TD patients contributed to clarify the inconsistent results concerning the DAT.
 
Article
Most common psychiatric diseases have been found to be associated with disturbance of both the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and the brain serotonergic system. The aim of this study was to explore the neuroendocrine relationships between the dexamethasone suppression test (DST) and serotonin transporter (SERT) availability in healthy volunteers. Sixty-six participants (30 males and 36 females) were recruited from the community. The DST suppression rate (D%) is the reduction in cortisol level from Day 1 (D1) to Day 2 (D2) in proportion to the Day 1 cortisol level (D%=(D1-D2)/D1×100%). SPECT with [(123)I] ADAM was used to measure SERT availability. A significant correlation between D% and SERT availability was noted in all subjects (Spearman's ρ=0.26, p=0.03) and in the male subjects (Spearman's ρ=0.41, p=0.02). SERT availability may be sensitive to changes in DST, especially in males.
 
Article
Most ligands which have been employed to investigate the regulation of beta-adrenergic receptors (betaAR) under pathophysiological conditions and in response to pharmacological manipulations have also been shown to have affinity for 5-HT1B receptors. We examined the effects of serotonin and metergoline (10 microM) on 125I-iodocyanopindolol (ICYP, 5-100 pM) binding to betaAR in rat frontal cortex and hippocampus membranes. In both brain regions, the presence of either serotonin or metergoline significantly lowered iodocyanopindolol dissociation constant (Kd) and maximum binding capacity (Bmax). Isoproterenol displacement curves showed that the decrease in receptor density was primarily due to a significant decrease in the receptors in the low-conformational state. Thus, a significant fraction of the apparent ICYP binding to betaAR in the low-conformational state was due to binding to 5-HT1B receptors. Neither serotonin nor metergoline had an effect on the agonist isoproterenol dissociation constant from betaAR in either conformational state.
 
Article
The autoradiographic distribution of the 5-HT4 receptor was described using human postmortem brain sections and the selective radioligand [125I]SB 207710 [(1-n-butyl-4-piperidinyl)methyl-8-amino-7-[125I]iodo-1,4-benzodioxane-5-carboxylate]. The specific binding was highest in regions of the basal ganglia (caudate nucleus, putamen, nucleus accumbens, globus pallidus and substantia nigra) and the hippocampal formation (CA1 and subiculum). In the neocortex, the binding showed a distinct lamination pattern with high levels in superficial layers and a band displaying lower levels in deep cortical layers. The results confirm previous studies on the distribution of 5-HT4 receptors in the human brain in vitro and provide high-resolution correlates for in vivo imaging studies using the radioligand recently developed for single photon emission tomography (SPET), [123I]SB 207710.
 
Article
The effect of a single intracerebroventricular (i.c.v.) injection of alpha-IFN on levels of central monoamines and their metabolites in six brain regions (frontal cortex, striatum, hypothalamus, hippocampus, mid brain and medulla) of the rat was investigated. Wistar rats (n=10) were decapitated 2 h after i.c.v. injection of alpha-IFN. The brain tissues were homogenized, and monoamine concentrations were measured by high-performance liquid chromatography with an electrochemical detector. The levels of 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) were significantly reduced in the frontal cortex in a dose-dependent manner, and the levels of both 5-HT and 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) were reduced in the mid brain and the striatum. The levels of noradrenaline (NA) were also significantly reduced in a dose-dependent manner in the frontal cortex. Some neurophysiological changes that affect activity of the noradrenergic or/and the serotonergic neuron system may occur during IFN therapy.
 
Article
Depression is a serious and burdensome illness. Although selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have improved safety and tolerability of antidepressant treatment efficacy, the delay in the onset of action have not been improved. There is evidence to suggest that the delay in onset of therapeutic activity is a function of the drugs, rather than the disease. This suggests that research into the biological characteristics of depression and its treatments may yield faster-acting antidepressants. Emerging evidence from clinical studies with mirtazapine, venlafaxine and SSRI augmentation with pindolol suggests that these treatments may relieve antidepressant symptoms more rapidly than SSRIs. The putative mechanism of action of faster-acting antidepressant strategies presented here purports that conventional antidepressants acutely increase the availability of serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) or noradrenaline (NA), preferentially at their cell body level, which triggers negative feedback mechanisms. After continued stimulation, these feedback mechanisms become desensitised and the enhanced 5-HT availability is able to enhance 5-HT and/or NA neurotransmission. Putative fast-onset antidepressants, on the other hand, may uncouple such feedback control mechanisms and enhance 5-HT and/or NA neurotransmission more rapidly. Further studies are required to characterise in detail the interactions between NA and 5-HT systems and to definitively establish the early onset of candidate antidepressants such as mirtazapine, venlafaxine and pindolol augmentation.
 
Article
One hundred and nine elderly patients suffering from mild to moderate cognitive impairment fulfilling NINCDS-ADRDA criteria for probable dementia of the Alzheimer type were treated for 6 months with a new nootropic drug, aniracetam (Ro 13-5057) in a double-blind randomized study versus placebo. The two treatment groups were comparable at baseline for demographic and behaviourial parameters and symptomatology. Patients underwent clinical, behaviourial and psychometric evaluation every other month. The aniracetam group differed significantly from the placebo group by the end of the study and also showed a statistically significant improvement versus baseline in the psychobehavioural parameters, while in the placebo group a steady deterioration was observed. Tolerability to aniracetam was excellent.
 
Article
A positive experience during a first encounter with a drug of abuse is predictive of subsequent use and might represent a vulnerability factor to develop addiction. This paper presents a meta-analysis of data acquired in 60 healthy volunteers who underwent a low-dose amphetamine challenge (0.3 mg/kg, i.v.) during imaging of dopamine D2 receptor availability with SPECT and the D2/D3 radiotracer [123I]IBZM. Amphetamine-stimulated DA release induced a small, significant and highly variable decrease in striatal D2 receptor availability (-8.3 +/- 6.7%). The magnitude of the decrease in D2 receptor availability was significantly associated with the positive reinforcing effects of the drug reported by the subject (r2 = 0.14, p = 0.003). Age was associated with decreased potency of dopamine to elicit positive reinforcing effects. This study indicates that both a large dopaminergic response and young age during a first encounter with a drug of abuse potential contribute to higher positive reinforcing effects.
 
Article
In recent years an increasing number of clinical trials to test the efficacy of new potential treatments have failed to demonstrate a difference from placebo for either the new treatment or for an established reference drug. A rise in the response rate to placebo observed in a range of psychiatric disorders has not been paralleled by a rise in the response to drug and small effect sizes make it difficult to establish significant differences. A number of factors are thought to contribute to the rising placebo response or the smaller effect sizes. These include differences over time in the populations studied, changes in investigator behaviour, and failures of trial design. The inclusion of a greater number of patients with mild disorder or whose disorder has a fluctuating course is thought likely to increase the placebo response rates. Close attention needs to be paid to patient selection in terms of diagnosis, severity and absence of confounding comorbidity such as alcoholism, personality disorders or brief depression. The rising placebo response is associated with an increasing variability of placebo response seen in some centres. The ability of some centres to select appropriate patients for studies to demonstrate a separation of reference treatment and placebo and the inability of other centres suggests that a more careful selection of investigators is important. Selection should be based on their experience, their record from previous studies, and their aptitude for being trained. The inclusion of a reference treatment arm provides a useful means to judge the performance of individual centres. The exclusion of eccentric centres that fail to reach predetermined performance criteria, such as a failure to separate reference treatment from placebo, may be considered. Trial designs need to qualify adequately the study population and pay sufficient attention to diagnosis, minimum severity and comorbidity at entry. Greater care is needed in excluding concomitant overt or covert psychotherapy and in reducing the unnecessary therapeutic contact that has been increased unwittingly by some protocols. Identifying patients with prior stability of illness, with clear disability, and with a minimum severity at entry is likely to lower the placebo response substantially and increase the effect size and power of the study. The possible influence of comedication should also be considered. The inclusion of a placebo run in period is considered unhelpful and the use of better statistical techniques should be adopted to maximise the sensitivity of the study and increase the chances of testing efficacy.
 
Article
A conceptual structure for drug addiction focused on allostatic changes in reward function that lead to excessive drug intake provides a heuristic framework with which to identify the neurobiologic neuroadaptive mechanisms involved in the development of drug addiction. The brain reward system implicated in the development of addiction is comprised of key elements of a basal forebrain macrostructure termed the extended amygdala and its connections. Neuropharmacologic studies in animal models of addiction have provided evidence for the dysregulation of specific neurochemical mechanisms not only in specific brain reward circuits (opioid peptides, gamma-aminobutyric acid, glutamate and dopamine) but also recruitment of brain stress systems (corticotropin-releasing factor) that provide the negative motivational state that drives addiction, and also are localized in the extended amygdala. The changes in the reward and stress systems are hypothesized to maintain hedonic stability in an allostatic state, as opposed to a homeostatic state, and as such convey the vulnerability for development of dependence and relapse in addiction.
 
13-Cis-RA treatment altered aggression behaviours in the resident intruder paradigm. Drug treated (closed bars) or vehicle control (open bars) adult resident rats encountered intruder rats on each of four weekly occasions (day 0 = pretreatment, day 7 = 7 days of treatment, day 14 = 14 days of treatment, day 21 = post-treatment) (A) Ethological analysis revealed that drug treated resident rats displayed a reduced number of aggression behaviours (as a percentage of all behaviours) towards the intruder rat compared with vehicle treated control resident rats. Increases in flight-escape behaviours (B) and in flight-submit behaviours (C) are also evident. Data are mean ± SEM of n = 8 resident rats per treatment group. In all graphs significant effects of 13-cis-RA treatment compared with vehicle are indicated (* = P b 0.05). Within treatment groups, significant differences in behaviours compared with pre-treatment baseline values (Day 0) are also indicated (+ = P b 0.05).
13-Cis-RA treatment does not affect sucrose consumption in adult and juvenile rats. The mean total sucrose consumption (corrected for body weight) during a 1 h (A) and 2 h (B) test session is shown. In both adult and juvenile rats after 2 weeks or 6 weeks of treatment there was no significant effect of drug (closed bars) compared with vehicle controls (open bars). Data shown are mean ± SEM of n = 8 rats per treatment group.
13-Cis-RA does not affect locomotor activity of adult and juvenile rats in the open field test. Locomotor activity is assessed by the total number of line crossings (A) and the number of vertical rearings (B) in the open field during a 10 min test session. In both adult and juvenile rats after 2 weeks or 6 weeks of treatment there was no significant effect of drug (closed bars) compared with vehicle controls (open bars). Data shown are mean ± SEM of n = 8 rats per treatment group.
Analysis of resident-rat behaviour on each of four encounters (days 0, 7, 14, and 21) in the resident-intruder paradigm.
Article
Retinoids, vitamin A related compounds, have an established role in the development of the nervous system and are increasingly recognized to play a role in adult brain function. The synthetic retinoid, 13-cis-retinoic acid (13-cis-RA, Roaccutane) is widely used to treat severe acne but has been linked to an increased risk of neuropsychiatric side effects, including depression. Here we report that chronic administration with 13-cis-RA (1 mg/kg i.p. daily, 7-14 days) in adult rats reduced aggression- and increased flight-related behaviours in the resident-intruder paradigm. However, in the forced swim, sucrose consumption and open field tests treatment for up to 6 weeks with 13-cis-RA did not modify behaviour in adult or juvenile animals. The behavioural change observed in the resident-intruder paradigm is directly opposite to that observed with chronic antidepressant administration. These findings indicate that when a suitably sensitive behavioural test is employed then chronic administration of 13-cis-RA in adult rats induces behavioural changes consistent with a pro-depressant action.
 
Article
Activity-based anorexia (ABA) mimics starvation and hyperactivity of anorexia nervosa patients in rats. Activation of the melanocortin (MC) system leads to hypophagia and increased energy expenditure in ad libitum fed rats. Therefore, activation of the MC system might underlie the development and propagation of ABA. Pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) gene expression is normally decreased during negative energy balance. Strikingly, we found a transient up-regulation of POMC mRNA levels in the arcuate nucleus during the development of ABA, indicating a hyperactive MC system. However, wheel running and food intake were not influenced by treating ABA rats with the competitive antagonist SHU9119. This suggests that agonism of MC receptors by endogenous alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) levels does not underlie ABA. Instead, treatment with the inverse agonist AgRP(83-132) did ameliorate signs of ABA. This implies that modulation of constitutive MC receptor activity rather than antagonizing putative alpha-MSH release contributes to the development and propagation of ABA.
 
Article
Cholesterol plays an integral role in the structure and function of the cell membrane and may also affect neurotransmission in the central nervous system. Previous work has identified abnormalities in serum cholesterol levels in patients with mood and anxiety disorders as well as in suicidal patients. However, the biological significance of these abnormalities remains to be clarified. An understanding of how serum cholesterol relates to the pathophysiology of mood disorders may generate biological markers that predict treatment response as well as targets for novel therapeutic strategies. In this article, we review the literature studying the significance of cholesterol in mood and anxiety disorders, with an emphasis on new studies focusing on the adverse impact of hypercholesterolemia on the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD). We then propose possible mechanisms that would account for the relationship between elevated cholesterol and treatment non-response in MDD.
 
Article
Fluoxetine, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, shows moderate efficacy and potency in the rat forced swimming depression test and the shock-induced ultrasonic vocalization anxiety test, whereas the 5-HT(1A) receptor agonist (+/-)-8-hydroxy-2-(di-n-propylamino)tetralin (8-OH-DPAT) is highly efficient and potent in both models. Whereas the 5-HT(1A) receptor antagonist WAY 100,635 abolishes the effect of 8-OH-DPAT in both models, it only attenuates the antidepressant-like effect of fluoxetine. Pretreatment with the 5-HT-depleting agent parachlorophenylalanine attenuates the antidepressant-like effect of fluoxetine, but not that of 8-OH-DPAT. This suggests that the antidepressant-like effect of fluoxetine and 8-OH-DPAT results from indirect (via increased synaptic availability of 5-HT) and direct stimulation of postsynaptic 5-HT(1A) receptors, respectively; whereas the anxiolytic-like effect of fluoxetine is not mediated by 5-HT(1A) receptors. The data support the hypothesis that the antidepressant- and anxiolytic-like effect of 8-OH-DPAT is predominantly mediated by post- and presynaptic 5-HT(1A) receptors, respectively, and that 5-HT(1A) receptors are only partially involved in the antidepressant-like effect of fluoxetine.
 
Article
The problem of antidepressant-resistant depression has necessitated finding ways of augmenting the actions of currently existing antidepressants. The present studies investigate the possibility of synergistic interactions between nitric oxide (NO) synthase inhibitors and antidepressants in the mouse forced swim test (FST), a pre-clinical test of antidepressant activity. Treatment with a behaviourally subactive dose of the NO synthase inhibitor NG-nitro-L-arginine (L-NA) (3 mg/kg) augmented the behavioural effect of the tricyclic antidepressant imipramine. In a similar fashion L-NA (3 mg/kg) augmented the effect of the selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor (SSRI) fluoxetine but not the noradrenaline re-uptake inhibitor, reboxetine in the FST. The interaction observed between L-NA and fluoxetine generalised to other selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, namely, sertraline and citalopram in the FST. Treatment with a subactive dose of the neuronally selective NO synthase inhibitor, 7-nitroindazole (30 and 50 mg/kg), augmented the behavioural effects of imipramine and fluoxetine, respectively. Thus inhibition of NO synthase enhances the activity of antidepressants that work via a serotonergic mechanism in the FST. The results of the present investigation support a view that antidepressant effects, or enhancement of such effects in the FST, may be elicited via NO synthase inhibition. Furthermore, these data raise the possibility that inhibition of NO synthase could be used as a strategy to enhance the clinical efficacy of serotonergic antidepressants.
 
Article
Cannabinoid ligands have wide ranging neural and behavioral effects; therefore, they are of substantial therapeutic interest. The levels of cannabinoids are tightly controlled in brain infusion and in vitro methodologies, although the studied dose-ranges are extremely wide (e.g. 0.4-470 nmol in brain infusion studies). The brain levels reached after systemic administration are virtually unknown. To investigate this issue, we injected intraperitoneally (3)H-labeled WIN-55,212 and SR141716A (0.3, 1 and 3 mg/kg) and estimated their accumulation in the blood, adipose tissue and brain. Accumulation was dose-dependent. The largest amounts were found in the adipose tissue, while the levels seen in the blood and brain were approximately similar. The accumulation of SR141716A was markedly more pronounced than that of WIN-55,212 in all three tissues. The brain distribution of WIN-55,212 showed large regional differences. Such differences were significant but much smaller with SR141716A. The largest brain levels noticed after intraperitoneal injections did not exceed 2.5 nmol/g. This is larger than the brain level of the endocannabinoid anandamide but smaller than that of 2-arachidonoyl glycerol. Yet, the CB1 receptor affinity of WIN-55,212 and SR-141716A is two orders of magnitude larger than that of 2-arachidonoyl glycerol, suggesting that the exogenously administered compounds were functionally more active. Our findings also suggest that brain infusion and in vitro techniques employing considerably larger doses than 2.5 nmol should be dealt with caution. It appears that measuring brain levels after systemic injections increases our understanding of cannabinoid effects, and provides important clues for the comparison of results obtained with different methodologies.
 
Article
The purpose of the present 6-week multicenter dose finding study was to compare the efficacy and tolerability of mirtazapine (preferentially presynaptic alpha 2-adrenergic receptor blocker) to placebo in hospitalized patients with major depression. The clinical efficacy was evaluated with the Hamilton Depression Scale (HAM-D), Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS), Beck Self-Rating Depression Scale, Global Assessment Scale (GAS), and Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS). The side effects were recorded on a checklist of emergent symptoms (ROSE) and physical examinations, ECG, clinical chemistry, and hematology tests were carried out. The dosages of mirtazapine were gradually raised from 15 mg to 50 mg. One hundred and fourteen patients were included. Twenty-two patients (37%) in mirtazapine group and 24 (44%) in the placebo group were prematurely withdrawn from the study mainly due to inadequate efficacy. The decrease in HAM-D and MADRS was generally more pronounced in the mirtazapine group than in the placebo group. Minor side effects were reported in less than 15% of the patients in both groups. Only fatigue and faintness were slightly more pronounced in the mirtazapine group than in the placebo group. No significant changes were found in laboratory parameters. Because of methodological flaws like combining a dose finding study with a placebo controlled study, further conclusions should not be made on the efficacy of mirtazapine when treating depressive patients.
 
Article
The effects of acute and chronic administration of WAY100635 and WAY100135, serotonin (5-HT)1A antagonists, on 5-HT synthesis rates, calculated from the trapping of alpha-[14C]methyl-L-tryptophan (alpha-MTrp), were evaluated in the rat brain using autoradiography. In the acute treatment studies, WAY100635 (1 mg/kg) induced a significant increase in 5-HT synthesis in the median raphe nucleus and some nerve terminal structures (range between 18 and 53%), while WAY100135 (10 mg/kg) produced a significant decrease of synthesis, in the range between 16 and 33%, in the raphe magnus nucleus and several projection areas. The action of WAY100635 given acutely was likely a result of antagonist actions at the 5-HT1A somato-dendritic autoreceptors. WAY100135 probably acted acutely as a partial agonist. In the chronic treatment studies, WAY100635 (1 mg/kg/day) and WAY100135 (10 mg/kg/day) were administered for 7 days as s.c. injections once a day. Chronic treatment with both compounds significantly reduced the rate of 5-HT synthesis in the nerve terminal structures and produced a significant increase in the raphe nuclei. These treatments did not have any effect on the plasma free or total tryptophan.
 
Allele frequencies and genotype distribution of the DRD2 TaqI A polymorphism
Allele frequencies and genotype distribution of the COMT polymorphism
Article
Mounting evidence suggests the involvement of the dopamine system in the pathophysiology of obsessive-compulsive disorder. The relationship of the dopamine D(2) receptor (DRD2) TaqI A, and catechol-O-methyl-transferase (COMT) NlaIII High/Low activity polymorphism to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) was examined in a sample of 150 patients and 150 controls. OCD patients did not show significant differences in genotype distribution and allele frequency for polymorphisms investigated relative to controls. However, when the sample was stratified by gender, there was a trend to a significant predominance of the DRD2 A2A2 genotype (p=0.049), and a higher frequency of the DRD2 A2 allele (p=0.020) and low-activity COMT allele (p=0.035) in male OCD patients compared to male controls. In addition, we observed an association of the DRD2 A2A2 genotype in patients with an early onset of disease (<or=15 years) (p=0.033). Our findings replicate previous reports and provide support for a potential role of the COMT and DRD2 locus in subgroup of male, early onset patients with OCD.
 
Article
Controlled trials in patients with bulimia nervosa have demonstrated efficacy of antidepressant medications with serotonergic function (e.g. fluoxetine) as well as noradrenergic function (e.g. desipramine). Sixteen out-patients with bulimia nervosa according to DSM-IV criteria were treated in a drug surveillance with 100 mg of milnacipran, a specific serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor (SNRI). Ten patients completed the 8-week observation period. The reasons for premature attrition were improvement in one patient (no. 12), a generalized exanthema in one patient (no. 7), severe nausea in one patient (no. 8) and non-compliance due to non-drug-related reasons in three patients (no. 1, 2, and 16). An intent-to-treat analysis exhibited a significant reduction in weekly binge eating and vomiting frequency from baseline to the end of treatment. Three patients stopped binge eating and purging completely during the last week of treatment. Furthermore, there was a concomitant decrease of depression ratings (HAMD, BDI). Our preliminary data give rise to the notion that milnacipran may be promising in the treatment of bulimia nervosa.
 
Article
Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurobehavioral disorder characterized by inappropriate difficulties to sustain attention, control impulses and modulate activity level. Although ADHD is one of the most prevalent childhood psychiatric disorders, it also persists into adulthood in around 30-50% of the cases. Based on the effect of psychostimulants used in the pharmacological treatment of ADHD, dysfunctions in neuroplasticity mechanisms and synapses have been postulated to be involved in the pathophysiology of ADHD. With this background, we evaluated, both in childhood and adulthood ADHD, the role of several genes involved in the control of neurotransmitter release through synaptic vesicle docking, fusion and recycling processes by means of a population-based association study. We analyzed single nucleotide polymorphisms across 16 genes in a clinical sample of 950 ADHD patients (506 adults and 444 children) and 905 controls. Single and multiple-marker analyses identified several significant associations after correcting for multiple testing with a false discovery rate (FDR) of 15%: (i) the SYT2 gene was strongly associated with both adulthood and childhood ADHD (p=0.001, OR=1.49 (1.18-1.89) and p=0.007, OR=1.37 (1.09-1.72), respectively) and (ii) STX1A was found associated with ADHD only in adults (p=0.0041; OR=1.28 (1.08-1.51)). These data provide preliminary evidence for the involvement of genes that participate in the control of neurotransmitter release in the genetic predisposition to ADHD through a gene-system association study. Further follow-up studies in larger cohorts and deep-sequencing of the associated genomic regions are required to identify sequence variants directly involved in ADHD.
 
Article
The efficacy and safety of flexible dosing with the antidepressant agomelatine (25-50 mg/day) was evaluated in a 6-week, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study involving 212 patients who met Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) criteria for major depressive disorder-current major depressive episode. Patients receiving agomelatine (25 mg and 50 mg/day) had a significantly lower mean Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAM-D) score at endpoint compared with those who received placebo (14.1 +/- 7.7 vs. 16.5 +/- 7.4, p = 0.026). Agomelatine significantly improved the response rate (49.1%; p = 0.03), time to first response (p = 0.032), and Clinical Global Impression-Severity of Illness score (p = 0.017), compared with placebo. These results were confirmed in a subgroup of patients with greater symptom severity. Agomelatine 50 mg also appeared to be effective and well tolerated in patients who failed to show improvement after 2 weeks on a dose of 25 mg/day. These results support the prescription of agomelatine 25 mg as the usual therapeutic dose, and suggest that increasing the dose to 50 mg may be beneficial for some patients without reducing tolerability.
 
Article
In male rats, the effects of the administration of the novel serotonergic agent flibanserin on the synthesis of 5-HT were evaluated in the frontal cortex (FC), hippocampus (Hip) and brainstem (Br). The selective serotonergic uptake blocker, fluoxetine, and two serotonin1A (5-HT1A) agonists, 8-hydroxy-2-(di-n-propylamino)tetraline (8-OH-DPAT) and buspirone, were used as reference compounds. The synthesis of 5-HT was assessed by measuring the accumulation of 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) after blockade of aromatic amino acid decarboxylase induced by m-hydroxybenzylhydrazine (NSD-1015), at 100 mg/kg i.p., 30 min before sacrifice. Flibanserin, 8-OH-DPAT and buspirone were given 15 min before NSD-1015, while fluoxetine 120 min before NSD-1015. In our experimental conditions, a different efficacy, expressed as percentage of maximal inhibition (Max) of 5-HTP accumulation, and a different potency, expressed in terms of minimal effective dose (MED), were observed in different brain areas with tested compounds. Flibanserin (1-32 mg/kg) decreased 5-HT synthesis with preferential activity in the FC, compared to the Hip and Br, both in terms of potency (MED=2 mg/kg in FC, 16 mg/kg in Hip and Br) and efficacy (Max=65% in FC, 44% in Hip and 29% in Br). Fluoxetine (1-30 mg/kg) decreased 5-HT synthesis with preferential activity in FC than in Hip and Br, only in terms of potency (MED=3 mg/kg in FC, 10 mg/kg in Hip and Br), this result being similar to that observed for flibanserin. In contrast, it showed greater efficacy both in FC and Hip (Max about 60%), than in Br (Max=49%). On the contrary, 8-OH-DPAT (0.3-3 mg/kg) decreased 5-HT synthesis with the same potency in all brain regions (MED=3 mg/kg) and showed the greatest efficacy in FC than in Hip and Br (Max=56% in FC, 49% in Hip and 40% in Br). Furthermore, buspirone (3-30 mg/kg), while inhibiting 5-HTP accumulation in all areas with the same efficacy (Max about 30%), seemed to have higher potency in Br than in FC and Hip (MED=3 mg/kg in Br, 10 mg/kg in FC and Hip). The results in terms of regional differences are discussed.
 
Top-cited authors
Hans-Ulrich Wittchen
  • Technische Universität Dresden
Abraham Weizman
  • Tel Aviv University
Siegfried Kasper
  • Medical University of Vienna
Frank Jacobi
  • Psychologische Hochschule Berlin
Jules Angst
  • University of Zurich