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Additional Dopamine Reuptake Inhibition Attenuates Vigilance Impairment Induced By Serotonin Reuptake Inhibition In Man

J. Schmitt, J. Ramaekers, M. Kruizinga, M. V. van Boxtel, E. Vuurman, W. Riedel
Published 2002 · Psychology, Medicine

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There is evidence for a specific impairment of human vigilance following enhancement of serotonergic activity by antidepressant drugs. In the present study, we investigated the putative role of serotonergic–dopaminergic interactions in diminished vigilance by comparing the attentional effects of sertraline, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) with additional mild dopamine stimulating effects, with those of paroxetine, a SSRI without dopamine activity, using a placebo-controlled, double-blind, three-way cross-over design. Twenty-one (of 24) healthy middle-aged subjects completed the three treatment periods of 2 weeks in which sertraline (50 mg, days 1–7; 100 mg, days 8–14), paroxetine (20 mg, days 1–7; 40 mg, days 8–14) and placebo were administered. Vigilance (Mackworth Clock Test), selective (Stroop, Dichotic Listening) and divided attention (Dichotic Listening) were assessed at baseline and on days 7 and 14 of each treatment period. Selective and divided attention were unaffected by SSRI treatment. Subchronic administration of paroxetine impaired vigilance performance at each investigated dose. Sertraline did not produce a significant decline in vigilance performance, presumably due to its concomitant effects on dopamine activity, counteracting the negative effects of serotonin on dopamine neurotransmission. It is concluded that a serotonergically mediated reduction of dopamine activity plays an important role in the reduction of human vigilance following SSRI administration.
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