Acute and chronic effects of the atypical antidepressant, mianserin on brain noradrenergic neurons

Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1991;103(3):330-8. doi: 10.1007/BF02244286.


Corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF), which may serve as a neurotransmitter in the noradrenergic nucleus, locus coeruleus (LC), has been postulated to be hypersecreted in depression. The present study was designed to test the hypothesis that antidepressants interfere with CRF putative neurotransmission in the LC. The acute and chronic effects of the atypical antidepressant mianserin on LC spontaneous discharge, LC sensory-evoked discharge, LC activation by a stressor which requires endogenous CRF, and LC activation by ICV CRF were characterized in halothane-anesthetized rats. Acute IV administration of mianserin (0.0001-1.0 mg/kg) increased LC spontaneous discharge and decreased LC discharge evoked by repeated sciatic nerve stimulation in a dose-dependent manner. Additionally, mianserin (0.1 mg/kg) inhibited LC activation by hemodynamic stress (IV infusion of nitroprusside) and by ICV administration of CRF (3.0 micrograms). In rats chronically administered mianserin LC spontaneous and sensory-evoked discharge rates, and LC activation by CRF were similar to those of untreated rats or rats chronically administered saline. Moreover, acute IV administration of mianserin (0.1 mg/kg) to rats chronically treated with mianserin was less effective in altering LC spontaneous and sensory-evoked discharge. In contrast, LC activation by hemodynamic stress was still greatly attenuated in rats chronically administered mianserin. This is similar to the previously reported effect produced by chronic administration of the antidepressant, desmethylimipramine. The present results demonstrate that acute administration of low doses of mianserin attenuates LC activation by a variety of stimuli and suggest that tolerance develops with chronic administration to some of the effects of mianserin on LC discharge characteristics.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone / administration & dosage
  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone / pharmacology
  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone / physiology*
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Hemodynamics / drug effects
  • Injections, Intraventricular
  • Locus Coeruleus / anatomy & histology
  • Locus Coeruleus / physiology
  • Male
  • Mianserin / pharmacology*
  • Neurons / drug effects*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Neurons, Afferent / drug effects
  • Nitroprusside / pharmacology
  • Norepinephrine / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Sciatic Nerve / drug effects
  • Sciatic Nerve / physiology


  • Nitroprusside
  • Mianserin
  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone
  • Norepinephrine