Effects of serotonin antagonists on m-chlorophenylpiperazine-mediated responses in normal subjects

RenéS S. Kahn, Oren Kalus, Scott Wetzler, Wiepke Cahn, Gregory M. Asnis, Herman M. van Praag

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The serotonin (5HT) agonist, m-chlorophenylpiperazine (MCPP), has been used as a challenge agent to assess central 5HT receptor sensitivity in normal subjects and patients with panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and major depression. Adrenocorticotropin, cortisol, and prolactin responses to MCPP were among the variables measured. MCPP's usefulness as a probe of 5HT receptors, however, hinges on its 5HT selectivity. To address MCPP's selectivity for 5HT, this study tested whether two different 5HT antagonists, methysergide (4 mg p.o.) and metergoline (4 mg p.o.), could block the hormonal and behavioral effects of MCPP (0.5 mg/kg p.o.) in 10 normal male subjects in comparison to placebo. Both 5HT antagonists abolished the prolactin release to MCPP. Metergoline, the antagonist with the more potent 5HT binding affinity, significantly blocked MCPP's effect on cortisol release as compared to placebo, and methysergide showed a nonsignificant trend to that effect. MCPP alone did not have a significant effect on behavioral variables, perhaps explaining why neither 5HT antagonist affected these measures. The findings from this study suggest that both MCPP-induced prolactin release and cortisol release are indeed 5HT-mediated effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-198
Number of pages10
JournalPsychiatry Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1990


  • hormones
  • m-Chlorophenylpiperazine
  • metergoline
  • methysergide
  • serotonin


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