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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Hypnotic action of flunitrazepam in the rat: does 5-HT mechanism play a role?

This study examined whether pharmacological manipulation of serotonergic (5-HT) systems would affect the hypnotic action of flunitrazepam in rats. Flunitrazepam, a potent hypnotic, was used alone or combined with parachlorophenylalanine (pCPA), an inhibitor of the synthesis of 5-HT, 8-OH-DPAT, a 5-HT1A receptor agonist and fluvoxamine, an inhibitor of the reuptake of 5-HT. Flunitrazepam increased the amount of orthodox sleep, the latency of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and decreased the amount of REM sleep. The drug pCPA decreased the total sleep time and the amount of orthodox and REM sleep. Administration of flunitrazepam to pCPA-pretreated rats induced orthodox sleep in an identical way to that found in the controls. The drug 8-OH-DPAT increased wakefulness and the latency of REM sleep. The association of flunitrazepam with 8-OH-DPAT abolished the increase in waking seen after 8-OH-DPAT alone. In contrast, the combined treatment with flunitrazepam and 8-OH-DPAT resulted in a lengthening of the latency of REM sleep significantly greater than that observed with the same dose of each drug alone. Fluvoxamine increased the latency a decrease the amount of REM sleep. The association of fluvoxamine with flunitrazepam induced a decrease in REM sleep, equal to the sum of the effects of the two drugs alone. Fluvoxamine did not modify the other effects of flunitrazepam. The present experiments demonstrate that the association of pCPA, 8-OH-DPAT and fluvoxamine, did not alter the hypnogenic effect of flunitrazepam. The possibility of an involvement of 5-HT mechanisms in the effect of flunitrazepam on the phasic events in sleep is questionable.[1]


  1. Hypnotic action of flunitrazepam in the rat: does 5-HT mechanism play a role? de St Hilaire-Kafi, S., Gaillard, J.M. Neuropharmacology (1988) [Pubmed]
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