Distinct effects of imipramine on 5-hydroxytryptamine uptake mediated by the recombinant rat serotonin transporter SERT1

J Neurochem. 1998 Jun;70(6):2545-53. doi: 10.1046/j.1471-4159.1998.70062545.x.


Tricyclic and nontricyclic serotonin [5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT)] uptake inhibitors are widely used for the treatment of depression. Here, we show that both the tricyclic antidepressant imipramine and the nontricyclic antidepressant citalopram competitively inhibit 5-HT transport mediated by the recombinant rat 5-HT transporter SERT1. For citalopram, the concentration producing half-maximal transport inhibition was in the same order of magnitude as its K(D) value determined by equilibrium binding. In contrast, the inhibitory potency of imipramine was more than one order of magnitude lower than its K(D) value. Our data are consistent with low-affinity imipramine binding occurring at or close to the substrate recognition site, which also binds citalopram. Occupation of the high-affinity imipramine binding site on SERT1 did not affect 5-HT transport but allosterically displaced citalopram from the substrate recognition site. Consequently, low concentrations of imipramine partially protected 5-HT transport from citalopram inhibition. This protection was only observed in the presence of Na+ because high-affinity imipramine binding is strictly sodium-dependent. Thus, depending on which of its binding sites on SERT1 is occupied, imipramine may exert distinct effects on 5-HT uptake mediated by the recombinant rat 5-HT transporter.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Allosteric Site
  • Animals
  • Antidepressive Agents, Tricyclic / metabolism
  • Antidepressive Agents, Tricyclic / pharmacology*
  • Biological Transport / drug effects
  • Carrier Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Carrier Proteins / physiology*
  • Cell Line
  • Citalopram / metabolism
  • Citalopram / pharmacology
  • Clomipramine / metabolism
  • Clomipramine / pharmacology
  • Desipramine / metabolism
  • Desipramine / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Imipramine / metabolism
  • Imipramine / pharmacology*
  • Kidney / cytology
  • Kidney / drug effects
  • Kidney / embryology
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / biosynthesis
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / physiology*
  • Membrane Transport Proteins*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins*
  • Rats
  • Recombinant Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Serotonin / metabolism*
  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors / metabolism
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Sodium / metabolism


  • Antidepressive Agents, Tricyclic
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • SLC6A4 protein, human
  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors
  • Slc6a4 protein, rat
  • Citalopram
  • Serotonin
  • Sodium
  • Clomipramine
  • Imipramine
  • Desipramine