The effect of repeated administration of imipramine or mirtazapine, two antidepressant drugs with different mechanisms of action, was studied on the stress‐induced increase in the extracellular concentration of norepinephrine in the prefrontal cortex of freely moving rats. Exposure to footshock in control rats induced a marked increase in extracellular norepinephrine concentrations in the prefrontal cortex (+120%). Long‐term administration with imipramine or mirtazapine (10 mg/kg, i.p., twice or once a day, respectively, for 14 days) reduced (+50%) the effect of stress on basal norepinephrine output. Acute administration of FG7142 (30 mg/kg, i.p.), an anxiogenic benzodiazepine receptor inverse agonist, induced a marked increase in norepinephrine output (+90%) in control rats. In rats chronically treated with imipramine or mirtazapine this effect was completely antagonized. On the contrary, acute administration of these antidepressant drugs failed to reduce stress‐ and FG7142‐induced increase in norepinephrine output. The plastic changes in the sensitivity of norepinephrine neurons to footshock stress and drug‐induced anxiogenic stimuli may reveal a new important neuronal mechanism involved in the long‐term modulation of emotional state. This action might be relevant for the anxiolytic and antidepressant effect of antidepressant drugs. Synapse 43:70–77, 2002. © 2001 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.
Synapse – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2002
Keywords: ; ; ; ; ;
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