Acute effects of tianeptine on circulating
neurotransmitters and cardiovascular parameters

by
Lechin F, van der Dijs B, Hernandez G, Orozco B, Rodriguez S, Baez S.
Department of Neurophysiology, Instituto de Medicina Experimental,
Faculty of Medicine, Universidad Central de Venezuela,
Caracas, Venezuela.
flechin@telcel.net.ve.
Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2006 Mar;30(2):214-22.


ABSTRACT

Tianeptine is a serotonin-uptake enhancer drug whose antidepressant effectiveness is based on its ability to reduce rather than increase serotonin availability at the synaptic cleft. This paradoxical neuropharmacological mechanism has raised doubt among neuropharmacologists and psychiatrists as to the role of tianeptine as a reliable antidepressant drug. This controversial issue led us to investigate the acute effects of a single, oral dose (12.5 mg) of this drug on circulating neurotransmitters and cardiovascular parameters in 50 healthy subjects. The drug provoked a striking and significant reduction of plasma noradrenaline (NA) and plasma serotonin (f-5-HT) while it increased plasma dopamine (DA) and platelet serotonin (p-5-HT) concentrations within the 4-h study period. No adrenaline (Ad) changes were registered. The NA/Ad ratio and the f-5-HT/p-5-HT ratio showed significant reduction throughout the test. Finally, although diastolic blood pressure (DBP) showed significant decrease, neither systolic blood pressure (SBP) nor heart rate (HR) showed significant change. These findings are consistent with the postulation that tianeptine reduces both neural sympathetic activity and parasympathetic activity without affecting adrenal sympathetic activity, enabling us to discuss the possible mechanisms involved in the antidepressant effects of tianeptine. The well-known fact that major depressed patients always show raised NA plus lower than normal p-5-HT levels, both disorders which are normalized by tianeptine, gives neurochemical support to the clinical improvement triggered by the drug in these patients. Summarizing, the results presented in this study demonstrate that tianeptine triggers significant reduction of circulating noradrenaline and plasma serotonin while increasing circulating dopamine and platelet serotonin. Other possible neuropharmacological effects are also discussed.

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