5-HT1A receptor responsivity in unipolar depression. Evaluation of ipsapirone-induced ACTH and cortisol secretion in patients and controls

Biol Psychiatry. 1990 Oct 1;28(7):620-8. doi: 10.1016/0006-3223(90)90400-v.


The selective 5-HT1A receptor ligand ipsapirone (IPS) induces corticotropin (ACTH) and cortisol secretion in humans. To explore 5-HT1A receptor-mediated hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) system activation in depression, 24 subjects (12 patients with unipolar depression and 12 individually matched controls) were given 0.3 mg/kg IPS or placebo in random order. Compared with controls, the depressed patients exhibited significantly decreased ACTH and cortisol responses to IPS in association with increased basal cortisol secretion. The impaired HPA response following 5-HT1A receptor challenge in unipolar depression could have resulted from glucocorticoid-dependent subsensitivity of the (post-synaptic) 5-HT1A receptor itself and/or from a defective postreceptor signaling pathway [inhibitory guanine nucleotide-binding protein (Gi)-adenylate cyclase complex function], thus supporting the hypothesis that a disintegrated 5-HT and HPA system interaction may be present in depression. Future studies of the HPA response to direct-acting 5-HT1A ligands, such as IPS, should facilitate the assessment of 5-HT/HPA system integrity in various affective disorders and its involvement in psychotropic drug effects.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone / blood*
  • Adult
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents*
  • Depressive Disorder / blood*
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood*
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System / drug effects
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System / drug effects
  • Pyrimidines*
  • Receptors, Serotonin*


  • Anti-Anxiety Agents
  • Pyrimidines
  • Receptors, Serotonin
  • ipsapirone
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone
  • Hydrocortisone