The Effect of Sympathetic Antagonists on the Antidepressant Action of Alprazolam
Alprazolam is an anti-anxiety drug shown to be effective in the treatment of depression. In this study, the effect of sympathetic receptor antagonists on alprazolam–induced antidepressant action was studied using a mouse model of forced swimming behavioral despair. The interaction of three sympathetic receptor antagonists with benzodiazepines, which may impact the clinical use of alprazolam, was also studied. Behavioral despair was examined in six groups of albino mice. Drugs were administered intraperitoneally. The control group received only a single dose of 1% Tween 80. The second group received a single dose of alprazolam, and the third group received an antagonist followed by alprazolam. The fourth group was treated with imipramine, and the fifth group received an antagonist followed by imipramine. The sixth group was treated with a single dose of an antagonist alone (atenolol, a β1-selective adrenoceptor antagonist; propranolol, a non selective β-adrenoceptor antagonist; and prazocin, an α1-adrenoceptor antagonist). Results confirmed the antidepressant action of alprazolam and imipramine. Prazocin treatment alone produced depression, but it significantly potentiated the antidepressant actions of imipramine and alprazolam. Atenolol alone produced an antidepressant effect and potentiated the antidepressant action of alprazolam. Propranolol treatment alone produced depression, and antagonized the effects of alprazolam and imipramine, even producing depression in combined treatments. In conclusion, our results reveal that alprazolam may produce antidepressant effects through the release of noradrenaline, which stimulates β2 receptors to produce an antidepressant action. Imipramine may act by activating β2 receptors by blocking or down-regulating β1 receptors.