Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibition and Eating Behavior


Address for correspondence: Dr. Vojtech Hainer, Institute of Endocrinology, Narodni 8, 116 94 Prague 1, Czech Republic. Voice: 00420-724211155; fax: 00420-224905325.


Abstract: Brain neurotransmitters, serotonin and norepinephrine, play an important role in the central nervous control of energy balance and are involved in symptomatology related to both obesity and depression. Therefore both serotonin and norepinephrine neural pathways have been paid a special attention as targets for the antiobesity drugs, antidepressants, and drugs used in the treatment of eating disorders. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) have been used in the treatment of depression and eating disorders but have failed to achieve sustained weight loss in the treatment of obesity. Sibutramine, a serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, which induces satiety and prevents decline in metabolic rate associated with a hypocaloric diet, is currently the sole centrally acting drug indicated for the long-term treatment of obesity. Depression, dietary disinhibition (evaluated by the Eating Inventory [EI]), and stress are associated with the accumulation of abdominal fat and the development of metabolic syndrome and related diseases. Subjects with abdominal obesity demonstrate neuroendocrine abnormalities which result in disturbances in hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) function. Treatment with SSRI might interrupt the vicious circle which leads to endocrine abnormalities and the accumulation of abdominal fat. Obesity treatment with sibutramine results, not only in significant weight loss, but also in reduction of abdominal fat and in the improvement of health risks associated with metabolic syndrome (lipid profile, blood glucose, insulin, HbA1c, and uric acid), as well as in the decline in disinhibition score of the EI. In a 1-year sibutramine trial, only a decrease in the disinhibition score remained a significant correlate of weight loss among the psychobehavioral and nutritional factors which were taken into account.