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New Class of Antidepressants May Act Faster

Study in rats indicates such drugs may act within days rather than weeks

THURSDAY, Sept. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Serotonin receptor agonists may represent a new class of antidepressants that act within days in rats compared with weeks for classical antidepressants, according to study findings published in the Sept. 6 issue of Neuron.

Guillaume Lucas, Ph.D., from McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and colleagues tested various serotonin receptor (5-HT4) agonists using the forced swim test in rats, which has been shown to be highly reliable in predicting antidepressant potential.

The researchers found that the agonists could modify several parameters in the rat brain after only three days that were observed with classical antidepressants after two to three weeks. In contrast, treatment with citalopram (a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) for three days had no effect on any of these parameters. Encouraging results were observed with the serotonin agonist RS 67333 in other behavioral models including olfactory bulbectomy and chronic mild stress.

The study will likely "stimulate efforts to develop safe 5-HT4 agonists that enter the brain and that can be used to further test this hypothesis [that 5-HT4 agonists are rapid and efficacious antidepressants] in preclinical and ultimately clinical trials that could lead to a much needed novel, rapid, and improved class of antidepressants," Ronald S. Duman, Ph.D., from Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn., writes in an accompanying editorial.

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