Effect of fluvoxamine, imipramine and placebo on catecholamine function in depressed outpatients

J Psychiatr Res. 1993 Apr-Jun;27(2):161-72. doi: 10.1016/0022-3956(93)90004-l.


Many of the specific serotonin reuptake inhibitors appear to have some effect on noradrenergic function. Fluvoxamine is one of the newer agents and its specificity has not been fully assessed. Depressed patients participating in a study comparing the efficacy of fluvoxamine with imipramine and placebo collected 24 hour urine samples (N = 38) and had plasma samples drawn (N = 38) prior to and after 6 weeks of double blind treatment. Urine samples were analyzed for 24 hour output of MHPG, VMA, NMN, MN and HVA. Plasma samples were analyzed for NE levels. Imipramine treatment produced a reduction in urinary MHPG, an increase in the ratio of NMN to MHPG plus VMA, and a trend towards an increase in plasma NE which was significantly different than the effects seen in the fluvoxamine and placebo groups. There was an additional finding in the imipramine group of a significant correlation between percentage change in plasma NE and clinical improvement. Fluvoxamine treatment, on the other hand, produced no clear effect on any measure of noradrenergic function and the antidepressant efficacy of fluvoxamine was unrelated to any noradrenergic variable. These findings lend support to the hypothesis that fluvoxamine does not have significant effects on noradrenergic function.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Catecholamines / physiology*
  • Depressive Disorder / drug therapy*
  • Depressive Disorder / physiopathology
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Fluvoxamine / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Imipramine / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Metanephrine / urine
  • Methoxyhydroxyphenylglycol / urine
  • Middle Aged
  • Norepinephrine / physiology
  • Normetanephrine / urine
  • Receptors, Adrenergic / drug effects
  • Receptors, Adrenergic / physiology
  • Receptors, Cholinergic / drug effects*
  • Receptors, Cholinergic / physiology
  • Vanilmandelic Acid / urine


  • Catecholamines
  • Receptors, Adrenergic
  • Receptors, Cholinergic
  • Normetanephrine
  • Metanephrine
  • Methoxyhydroxyphenylglycol
  • Vanilmandelic Acid
  • Fluvoxamine
  • Imipramine
  • Norepinephrine