Platelet alpha 2-adrenergic receptors in major depressive disorder. Binding of tritiated clonidine before and after tricyclic antidepressant drug treatment

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1981 Dec;38(12):1327-33. doi: 10.1001/archpsyc.1981.01780370029003.


The specific binding of tritiated (3H)-clonidine, an alpha 2-adrenergic receptor agonist, to platelet membranes was measured in normal subjects and in patients with major depressive disorder. The number of platelet alpha 2-adrenergic receptors from the depressed group was significantly higher than that found in platelets obtained from the control population. Treatment with tricyclic antidepressant drugs led to significant decreases in the number of platelet alpha 2-adrenergic receptors. These results support the hypothesis that the depressive syndrome is related to an alpha 2-adrenergic receptor supersensitivity and that the clinical effectiveness of tricyclic antidepressant drugs is associated with a decrease in the number of these receptors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Amitriptyline / pharmacology
  • Blood Platelets / metabolism*
  • Clonidine / metabolism*
  • Depressive Disorder / blood*
  • Depressive Disorder / drug therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Imipramine / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Receptors, Adrenergic / drug effects*
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, alpha / drug effects*
  • Tritium


  • Receptors, Adrenergic
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, alpha
  • Tritium
  • Amitriptyline
  • Clonidine
  • Imipramine
  • Hydrocortisone