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Keywords:

  • depression;
  • drug abuse;
  • rat;
  • serotonin;
  • treatment resistance

Abstract

The effect of prior exposure to methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA) on behavioural and neurochemical responses to fluoxetine were assessed in a rat model of antidepressant action. MDA (7.5 mg/kg, i.p.) was administered to rats twice daily for 4 consecutive days, and 4 weeks later the behavioural effect of fluoxetine (5 or 20 mg/kg; i.p. × 3) was examined in the modified rat forced-swimming test. In addition, the ability of fluoxetine to reduce serotonin (5-HT) metabolism was measured as an index of its efficacy in inhibiting 5-HT reuptake in vivo. In vehicle-treated rats, fluoxetine (5 and 20 mg/kg) produced a characteristic increase in swimming behaviour in the forced-swimming test. In contrast, fluoxetine-induced swimming was markedly attenuated in MDA-treated rats. MDA pretreatment resulted in 5-HT nerve terminal degeneration, indicated by reduced 5-HT and 5-HIAA concentrations in the frontal cortex, amygdala and hippocampus, and reduced [3H]paroxetine binding in the frontal cortex. In vehicle-treated rats, fluoxetine (5 and 20 mg/kg) decreased 5-HT metabolism (5-HIAA : 5-HT ratio) in the frontal cortex, amygdala and hippocampus. MDA pretreatment attenuated the ability of fluoxetine to reduce 5-HT metabolism in all brain regions examined. These findings are the first to demonstrate that prior exposure to the methylenedioxy-substituted amphetamine MDA results in diminished responsiveness to the antidepressant fluoxetine.