Differential inhibitory effects of drugs acting at the noradrenaline and 5-hydroxytryptamine transporters in rat and human neocortical synaptosomes


  • Correction added after online publication 23 November 2009: in the article title 5-hydroxytrptamine was corrected to 5-hydroxytryptamine.

TJ Feuerstein, Section of Clinical Neuropharmacology, Department of Neurosurgery, University of Freiburg, Breisacherstraße 64, D-79106 Freiburg, Germany. E-mail: thomas.feuerstein@uniklinik-freiburg.de


Background and purpose:  Although the amino acid sequences of rat and human 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) and noradrenaline (NA) transporters (i.e. SERT and NET) are highly homologous, species differences exist in the inhibitory effects of drugs acting at these transporters. Therefore, comparison of the potencies of drugs acting at SERT and NET in native human and rat neocortex may serve to more accurately predict their clinical profile.

Experimental approach:  Synaptosomes prepared from fresh human and rat neocortical tissues were used for [3H]-5-HT and [3H]-NA saturation and competition uptake experiments. The drugs tested included NA reuptake inhibitors (desipramine, atomoxetine and (S,S)-reboxetine), 5-HT reuptake blockers (citalopram, fluoxetine and fluvoxamine) and dual 5-HT/NA reuptake inhibitors (duloxetine and milnacipran).

Key results:  In saturation experiments on synaptosomal [3H]-5-HT and [3H]-NA uptake, the dissociation constants did not indicate species differences although a smaller density of both SERT and NET was observed in human tissues. In competition experiments with the various drugs, marked species differences in their potencies were observed, especially at SERT. The rank order of selectivity ratios (SERT/NET) in human neocortex was as follows: citalopram ≥ duloxetine = fluvoxamine ≥ fluoxetine > milnacipran > desipramine = atomoxetine > (S,S)-reboxetine. Significant species differences in these ratios were observed for duloxetine, atomoxetine and desipramine.

Conclusions and implications:  This study provides the first compilation of drug potency at native human neocortical SERT and NET. The significant species differences (viz., human vs. rat) in drug potency suggest that the general use of rodent data should be limited to predict clinical efficacy or profile.