Skeletal muscle necrosis following membrane-active drugs plus serotonin

Herbert Y. Meltzer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Administration of imipramine plus serotonin (5-HT) to rats has been proposed as an animal model of Duchenne muscular dystrophy. We studied the skeletal muscle necrosis produced in male rats given 5-HT after pretreatment with imipramine, other tricyclic antidepressants, or antihistamines, which like the tricyclic antidepressants, can block neuronal reuptake of 5-HT. Following one of these agents plus 5-HT, 20 mg/kg subcutaneously (s.c.), necrosis was more severe in the soleus muscle than the quadriceps. There was no significant difference in the incidence of necrosis in the soleus and quadriceps muscles following one of these agents plus 5-HT, 100 mg/kg, intraperitoneally (i.p.). After one of these agents plus 5-HT i.p., but not 5-HT s.c., extensive necrosis was significantly more frequent and severe in the quadriceps muscle than after 5-HT s.c. Chlorpheniramine (CP) plus 5-HT, 2.5 mg/kg intravenously, produced less muscle necrosis than CP plus 5-HT s.c. or i.p. The necrosis produced by CP plus 5-HT s.c. was comparable ipsilateral and contralateral to the injection site. The necrosis following CP plus 5-HT i.p. was maximal at 24 hr and remained fairly constant until 5 days. Regeneration was prominent by 7 days. The muscle necrosis produced by CP plus 5-HT is blocked by some 5-HT blockers, e.g., methiotepin and methysergide. It is also partially blocked by denervation. The capacity of tricyclic antidepressants and antihistamines to block neuronal 5-HT reuptake tended to be negatively correlated with the capacity to potentiate the muscle necrosis they produced with 5-HT, which suggests that blockade of 5-HT uptake is not the mechanism of the pathology produced by the combined treatment. The tricyclic antidepressants and the antihistamines are "membrane stabilizers-labilizers". Other drugs which are "membrane stabilizers-labilizers" such as trihexyphenidyl and procaine also promoted skeletal muscle necrosis when given prior to 5-HT. It is proposed that the effects of imipramine plus 5-HT on skeletal muscle are not due to the blockade of neuronal uptake of 5-HT and subsequent vascular-induced ischemia, but reflect direct toxic effects of these agents on skeletal muscle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-56
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of the Neurological Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1976

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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