Fluoxetine, but not other selective serotonin uptake inhibitors, increases norepinephrine and dopamine extracellular levels in prefrontal cortex

Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2002 Apr;160(4):353-61. doi: 10.1007/s00213-001-0986-x. Epub 2002 Jan 29.


Rationale: The selective serotonin uptake inhibitor (SSRI) fluoxetine has been shown to not only increase the extracellular concentrations of serotonin, but also dopamine and norepinephrine extracellular concentrations in rat prefrontal cortex. The effect of other SSRIs on monoamine concentrations in prefrontal cortex has not been thoroughly studied.

Objective: The aim of this study was to compare the ability of five systemically administered selective serotonin uptake inhibitors to increase acutely the extracellular concentrations of serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine in rat prefrontal cortex.

Methods: The extracellular concentrations of monoamines were determined in the prefrontal cortex of conscious rats using the microdialysis technique.

Results: Fluoxetine, citalopram, fluvoxamine, paroxetine and sertraline similarly increased the extracellular concentrations of serotonin from 2- to 4-fold above baseline. However, only fluoxetine produced robust and sustained increases in extracellular concentrations of norepinephrine and dopamine after acute systemic administration. Fluoxetine at the same dose blocked ex vivo binding to the serotonin transporter, but not the norepinephrine transporter, suggesting that the increase of catecholamines was not due to non-selective blockade of norepinephrine uptake. Prefrontal cortex extracellular concentrations of fluoxetine at the dose that increased extracellular monoamines were 242 nM, a concentration sufficient to block 5-HT(2C) receptors which is a potential mechanism for the fluoxetine-induced increase in catecholamines.

Conclusion: Amongst the SSRIs examined, only fluoxetine acutely increases extracellular concentrations of norepinephrine and dopamine as well as serotonin in prefrontal cortex, suggesting that fluoxetine is an atypical SSRI.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dopamine / biosynthesis
  • Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Extracellular Space / drug effects*
  • Extracellular Space / metabolism
  • Fluoxetine / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Microdialysis
  • Norepinephrine / biosynthesis
  • Norepinephrine / metabolism*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / drug effects*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors / blood
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors / metabolism
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors / pharmacology*


  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors
  • Fluoxetine
  • Dopamine
  • Norepinephrine