Pathophysiology and management of the serotonin syndrome

Thomas M. Brown, Brian P. Skop, Thomas R. Mareth

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

117 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To review the symptoms, pathophysiology, and treatment of the serotonin syndrome (SS). DATA SOURCES: A MEDLINE search (1957-1995) of the English-language literature pertaining to the SS was performed. Additional literature was obtained from reference lists of pertinent articles identified through the search. STUDY SELECTION AND DATA EXTRACTION: All particles were considered for possible inclusion in the review. Pertinent information, as judged by the authors, was selected for discussion. DATA SYNTHESIS: The SS, an occasionally fatal disorder, is characterized by symptoms such as mental status changes, seizures, myoclonus, and blood dyscrasias. Both the central and peripheral serotonergic systems and several serotonin receptor types are involved in the symptomatology of the SS. The pathogenesis of SS may be due to endogenous as well an iatrogenic deficits in peripheral serotonin metabolism, a stimulus for release of serotonin, and interactions with other neurotransmitter systems. Lorazepam, serotonin-blockers, and nitroglycerin have been used successfully to treat SS. CONCLUSIONS: The SS is increasingly recognized and reported in the literature. Clinical and basic science research have increased our understanding of the pathophysiology, conditions, and agents that may predispose to the development of the syndrome. Newer treatment strategies are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)527-533
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Pharmacotherapy
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)


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