Diazepam and chlormethiazole attenuate the development of hyperthermia in an animal model of the serotonin syndrome

Neurochem Int. 2003 Jul;43(2):155-64. doi: 10.1016/s0197-0186(02)00213-9.


The serotonin (5-HT) syndrome is the most serious toxic interaction of antidepressants, but no pharmacotherapy has yet been established. In the present study, we created an animal model of the 5-HT syndrome by intraperitoneally injecting rats with clorgyline (2 mg/kg) and 5-hydroxy-L-tryptophan (5-HTP) (100 mg/kg) and evaluated the effectiveness of potent 5-HT(2A) receptor antagonists and GABA-enhancing drugs, including diazepam and chlormethiazole. The rectal temperature of the rats was measured, and the noradrenaline (NA) and 5-HT levels in the anterior hypothalamus were measured by microdialysis. In the group pre-treated with saline, the rectal temperature increased to more than 40 degrees C, and all of the animals died within 90 min after administration. Pre-treatment with potent 5-HT(2A) receptor antagonists prevented the development of hyperthermia and death in the rats. Pre-treatment with diazepam, 10 and 20mg/kg, and chlormethiazole, 50 and 100mg/kg, attenuated the development of hyperthermia. Although neither of these drugs completely prevented the rats from dying, they prolonged their survival time. Regardless of the type of therapeutic agents, the concentration of 5-HT increased to about 1100-fold the pre-administration level. The NA levels in the saline group increased to about 16-fold the pre-administration levels, but the increase was significantly lower in the rats that survived as a result of drug therapy. These results suggest that GABA-mimetic drugs may be effective against the 5-HT syndrome, although they have a somewhat weaker effect than the potent 5-HT(2A) receptor blockers, and that not only is 5-HT activity increased in the brain in the 5-HT syndrome, but the NA system is also enhanced.

MeSH terms

  • 5-Hydroxytryptophan / toxicity
  • Animals
  • Body Temperature / drug effects
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain / pathology
  • Chlormethiazole / pharmacology*
  • Clorgyline / toxicity
  • Diazepam / pharmacology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Fever / etiology
  • Fever / prevention & control*
  • Kinetics
  • Male
  • Microdialysis
  • Neuroprotective Agents / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Serotonin Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • Time Factors


  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Chlormethiazole
  • 5-Hydroxytryptophan
  • Clorgyline
  • Diazepam