Pharmacological studies using a canine model of narcolepsy have demonstrated that adrenergic rather than serotonergic or dopaminergic uptake inhibition is the primary mode of action of antidepressants on cataplexy, a pathological manifestation of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep atonia that occurs in narcolepsy. This result is in line with the known involvement of adrenergic systems in the regulation of REM sleep. However, the lack of anticataplectic effects of selective serotonergic compounds was puzzling as serotonergic neurons of the dorsal raphe nuclei are known to decrease activity during the REM sleep in a manner similar to the adrenergic neurons of the locus coeruleus. To further explore the role of serotonergic systems, we tested the effect on canine cataplexy of six 5-HT1A agonists and five 5-HT1A antagonists. Results indicate that 5-HT1A agonists significantly suppress cataplexy in correlation with their in vitro affinities to the canine central 5-HT1A receptors. Anticataplectic effects were, however, accompanied by various behavioral changes, such as flattened body posture, increased panting and agitation. In contrast, the selective 5-HT1A antagonist did not aggravate cataplexy, although a 5-HT1A antagonist was able to block the anticataplectic effect of a 5-HT1A agonist. These results suggest that the anticataplectic effects of 5-HT1A agonists are truly mediated by 5-HT1A receptor stimulation. It is, however, likely that anticataplectic effects occur due to the behavioral side effects rather than the direct involvement of this receptor subtype in the regulation of cataplexy. Further studies are therefore necessary to address the question of whether these 5-HT1A agonists hold promise in the pharmacological treatment of human cataplexy.
View details for Web of Science ID A1995QL99500028
View details for PubMedID 7891329