The effects of chronic norepinephrine transporter inactivation on seizure susceptibility in mice

Todd H. Ahern, Martin A. Javors, Douglas A. Eagles, Jared Martillotti, Heather A. Mitchell, Larry Cameron Liles, David Weinshenker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Epilepsy and depression are comorbid disorders, but the mechanisms underlying their relationship have not been identified. Traditionally, many antidepressants have been thought to increase seizure incidence, although this remains controversial, and it is unclear which medications should be used to treat individuals suffering from both epilepsy and depression. Since the neurotransmitter norepinephrine (NE) has both antidepressant and anticonvulsant properties, we speculated that NE transporter (NET) inhibitor antidepressants might be therapeutic candidates for comorbid individuals. To test this idea, we assessed the effects of chronic administration (via osmotic minipump) of the selective NET inhibitor reboxetine on flurothyl-induced seizures in mice. We found that reboxetine had both proconvulsant and anticonvulsant properties; it lowered both seizure threshold and maximal seizure severity. NET knockout (NET KO) mice essentially phenocopied the effects of reboxetine on flurothyl-induced seizures, and the trends were extended to pentylenetetrazole and maximal electroshock seizures (MES). Furthermore, reboxetine had no further effect in NET KO mice, demonstrating the specificity of reboxetine for the NET. We next tested the chronic and acute effects of other classes of antidepressants (desipramine, imipramine, sertraline, bupropion, and venlafaxine) on seizure susceptibility. Only venlafaxine was devoid of proconvulsant activity, and retained some anticonvulsant activity. These results suggest that chronic antidepressant drug treatment has both proconvulsant and anticonvulsant effects, and that venlafaxine is a good candidate for the treatment of epilepsy and depression comorbidity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)730-738
Number of pages9
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2006


  • Antidepressant
  • Epilepsy
  • Norepinephrine
  • Norepinephrine transporter
  • Seizure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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