Impact of ovarian hormones on the modulation of the serotonin transporter by fluvoxamine

Saloua Benmansour, Jonathan P. Piotrowski, Alfonso V. Altamirano, Alan Frazer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Most preclinical studies examining the mechanism(s) of action of antidepressants are carried out using male animals. Blockade of serotonin transporter (SERT) function by selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) is the initial event that triggers a not completely understood process that results in clinical improvement in depression. To investigate whether there are differences in the ability of SSRIs to inhibit the SERT between male and female rats at different phases of the estrous cycle, clearance of locally applied serotonin (5-HT) was measured by in vivo chronoamperometry. Local application of the SSRI, fluvoxamine, directly into the CA3 area of hippocampus increased significantly 5-HT clearance time parameters in male rats and female rats in estrus or diestrus, but not in proestrus. The contribution of ovarian steroids to this result was investigated in ovariectomized (OVX) rats treated with estradiol benzoate (EB) and/or progesterone (P). In OVX-control rats, fluvoxamine increased clearance time parameters, whereas EB and/or P treatment blocked this effect, consistent with what was seen in female rats in proestrus. This effect was gender-specific, since treatment of castrated rats with EB/P had no effect on the ability of fluvoxamine to slow 5-HT clearance. The time course of hormonal effects showed that 1-60 min after local application of 17-β-estradiol (E2) into the CA3 region of OVX rats, fluvoxamine had no effect on clearance time of 5-HT. E2-BSA mimicked E 2's effects at 10 min but not at 60 min. Pretreatment with estrogen receptor antagonists blocked the effects of E2. The finding that acutely both estradiol and progesterone can inhibit the ability of an SSRI to slow the clearance of 5-HT, may have important implications for the use of SSRIs in women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)555-564
Number of pages10
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2009


  • Chronoamperometry
  • Estradiol
  • Fluvoxamine
  • Hippocampus
  • Progesterone
  • Serotonin transporter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology


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