Serotonin and Antidepressant SSRIs Inhibit Rat Neuroendocrine Dopamine Neurons: Parallel Actions in the Lactotrophic Axis

David J. Lyons, Rachida Ammari, Arash Hellysaz, Christian Broberger

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18 Citations (Scopus)
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Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are commonly prescribed for depression, but sexual side effects often compromise compliance. These reproductive dysfunctions are likely mediated by elevations of the hormone prolactin. Yet, how serotonin (5-HT) and SSRIs cause changes in prolactin secretion is not known. Here, using in vitro whole-cell patch-clamp recordings, we show that 5-HT hyperpolarizes and abolishes phasic discharge in rat neuroendocrine tuberoinfundibular dopamine (TIDA) neurons, the main inhibitor of prolactin secretion. This process is underpinned by 5-HT1A receptor-mediated activation of G-protein-coupled inwardly rectifying K-like currents. We further demonstrate that the SSRIs, fluoxetine and sertraline, directly suppress TIDA neuron activity through parallel effects, independent of 5-HT transmission. This inhibition involves decreased intrinsic excitability and a slowing of TIDA
network rhythms. These findings indicate that SSRIs may inhibit neuroendocrine dopamine release through both 5-HT-dependent and -independent actions, providing a mechanistic explanation for, and potential molecular targets for the amelioration of, the hyperprolactinemia and sexual dysfunction associated with these drugs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7392-7406
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number28
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jul 2016

Bibliographical note

This work was supported by European Research Council ENDOSWITCH 261286, Swedish Research Council 2014-3906, Strategic Research Programme in Diabetes at Karolinska Institutet, and Novo Nordisk Fonden to C.B. D.J.L. was supported by Wenner-Gren Foundations postdoctoral fellowship. The authors thank Dr. April Johnston for advice on serotonin pharmacology and Dr. Pradeep Atluri for discussions on clinical manifestations of SSRI treatment.


  • depression
  • dopamine
  • fluoxetine
  • neuroendocrine
  • prolactin
  • tuberoinfundibular


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