Serotonergic agents act on 5-HT3 receptors in the brain to block seizure-induced respiratory arrest in the DBA/1 mouse model of SUDEP

Epilepsy Behav. 2016 Nov;64(Pt A):166-170. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2016.09.034. Epub 2016 Oct 12.


Drugs that enhance the action of serotonin (5-hydroxytrypamine, 5-HT), including several selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), reduce susceptibility to seizure-induced respiratory arrest (S-IRA) that leads to death in the DBA/1 mouse model of sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP). However, it is not clear if specific 5-HT receptors are important in the action of these drugs and whether the brain is the major site of action of these agents in this SUDEP model. The current study examined the actions of agents that affect the 5-HT3 receptor subtype on S-IRA and whether intracerebroventricular (ICV) microinjection of an SSRI would reduce S-IRA susceptibility in DBA/1 mice. The data indicate that systemic administration of SR 57227, a 5-HT3 agonist, was effective in blocking S-IRA in doses that did not block seizures, and the S-IRA blocking effect of the SSRI, fluoxetine, was abolished by coadministration of a 5-HT3 antagonist, ondansetron. Intracerebroventricular administration of fluoxetine in the present study was also able to block S-IRA without blocking seizures. These findings suggest that 5-HT3 receptors play an important role in the block of S-IRA by serotonergic agents, such as SSRIs, which is consistent with the abnormal expression of 5-HT3 receptors in the brainstem of DBA mice observed previously. Taken together, these data indicate that systemically administered serotonergic agents act, at least, in part, in the brain, to reduce S-IRA susceptibility in DBA/1 mice and that 5-HT3 receptors may be important to this effect.

Keywords: 5-HT; Antagonist; Audiogenic seizures; Intracerebroventricular; SSRIs.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Death, Sudden / prevention & control*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Fluoxetine / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred DBA
  • Receptors, Serotonin, 5-HT3 / drug effects*
  • Seizures / complications*
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Serotonin 5-HT3 Receptor Agonists / pharmacology*
  • Serotonin 5-HT3 Receptor Antagonists / pharmacology*
  • Serotonin Agents / therapeutic use


  • Receptors, Serotonin, 5-HT3
  • Serotonin 5-HT3 Receptor Agonists
  • Serotonin 5-HT3 Receptor Antagonists
  • Serotonin Agents
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors
  • Fluoxetine