Effect of antidepressants, lithium and electroconvulsive treatment on rat serum prolactin levels

H. Y. Meltzer*, M. Simonovic, R. D. Sturgeon, V. S. Fang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


The ability of antidepressant drugs, electroconvulsive treatment (ECT), or lithium chloride (LiCl), to modify prolactin secretion in the rat was studied. Chlorimipramine, citalopram, fluoxetine, imipramine and zimelidine potentiated the low dose 5‐hydroxytryptophan (5‐HTP)‐induced increase in prolactin secretion, suggesting inhibition of serotonin (5‐HT) uptake by these drugs. Amitriptyline, doxepin, iprindole, mianserin and trazadone inhibited the prolactin stimulating effects of high doses 5‐HTP and quipazine, suggesting that these drugs have 5‐HT receptor blocking properties. Tandamine inhibited only 5‐HTP‐induced increase in prolactin secretion. Chronic administration of imipramine, potentiated the effect of low dose S‐HTP significantly more than an acute dose. Amitriptyline, produced similar inhibition of the 5‐HTP‐induced increase in prolactin secretion after both acute and chronic administration. The ability of bupropion and mazindol to inhibit alpha‐methylparatyrosine‐induced prolactin secretion, and of nomifensine to inhibit reserpine‐induced prolactin secretion, is consistent with other evidence that these agents are indirect dopamine (DA) agonists. Desipramine, acutely, had no effect on any of the above paradigms but after chronic administration, potentiated the effect of low dose 5‐HTP on prolactin secretion. Nortriptyline had no effect on prolactin secretion after acute or chronic treatment. ECT for 10 days did not affect the ability of a 5‐HT agonist or d‐amphetamine to modify prolactin secretion. However, chronic, but not acute, treatment with LiCl markedly enhanced the prolactin response to 5‐HT agonists and reserpine while shifting the dose response curve for d‐amphetamine and apomorphine to the right. These results are discussed in light of current theories of the role of 5‐HT and DA in depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)100-121
Number of pages22
JournalActa Psychiatrica Scandinavica
StatePublished - Jan 1 1981


  • 5‐hydroxytryptophan
  • Antidepressants
  • dopamine agonists
  • lithium
  • prolactin secretion
  • rats
  • zimelidine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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