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      SNRIs: The Pharmacology, Clinical Efficacy, and Tolerability in Comparison with Other Classes of Antidepressants

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      CNS Spectrums

      Cambridge University Press (CUP)

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          Abstract

          The class of serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) now comprises three medications: venlafaxine, milnacipran, and duloxetine. These drugs block the reuptake of both serotonin (5-HT) and norepinephrine with differing selectivity. Whereas milnacipran blocks 5-HT and norepinephrine reuptake with equal affinity, duloxetine has a 10-fold selectivity for 5-HT and venlafaxine a 30-fold selectivity for 5-HT. All three SNRIs are efficacious in treating a variety of anxiety disorders. There is no evidence for major differences between SNRIs and SSRIs in their efficacy in treating anxiety disorders. In contrast to SSRIs, which are generally ineffective in treating chronic pain, all three SNRIs seem to be helpful in relieving chronic pain associated with and independent of depression. Tolerability of an SNRI at therapeutic doses varies within the class. Although no direct comparative data are available, venlafaxine seems to be the least well-tolerated, combining serotonergic adverse effects (nausea, sexual dysfunction, withdrawal problems) with a dose-dependent cardiovascular phenomenon, principally hypertension. Duloxetine and milnacipran appear better tolerated and essentially devoid of cardiovascular toxicity.

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          Most cited references 116

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          Role of serotonergic and noradrenergic systems in the pathophysiology of depression and anxiety disorders.

          There is abundant evidence for abnormalities of the norepinephrine (NE) and serotonin (5HT) neurotransmitter systems in depression and anxiety disorders. The majority of evidence supports underactivation of serotonergic function and complex dysregulation of noradrenergic function, most consistent with overactivation of this system. Treatment for these disorders requires perturbation of these systems. Reproducible increases in serotonergic function and decreases in noradrenergic function accompany treatment with antidepressants, and these alterations may be necessary for antidepressant efficacy. Dysregulation of these systems clearly mediates many symptoms of depression and anxiety. The underlying causes of these disorders, however, are less likely to be found within the NE and 5HT systems, per se. Rather their dysfunction is likely due to their role in modulating, and being modulated by, other neurobiologic systems that together mediate the symptoms of affective illness. Clarification of noradrenergic and serotonergic modulation of various brain regions may yield a greater understanding of specific symptomatology, as well as the underlying circuitry involved in euthymic and abnormal mood and anxiety states. Disrupted cortical regulation may mediate impaired concentration and memory, together with uncontrollable worry. Hypothalamic abnormalities likely contribute to altered appetite, libido, and autonomic symptoms. Thalamic and brainstem dysregulation contributes to altered sleep and arousal states. Finally, abnormal modulation of cortical-hippocampal-amygdala pathways may contribute to chronically hypersensitive stress and fear responses, possibly mediating features of anxiety, anhedonia, aggression, and affective dyscontrol. The continued appreciation of the neural circuitry mediating affective states and their modulation by neurotransmitter systems should further the understanding of the pathophysiology of affective and anxiety disorders.
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            Residual symptoms after partial remission: an important outcome in depression.

            This paper draws attention to an important adverse outcome in depression, the occurrence of residual symptoms after partial remission. Among patients with definite major depression followed every 3 months to remission and thereafter, residual symptoms reaching 8 or more on the Hamilton Depression Scale 17-item total were present in 32% (19) of the 60 who remitted below major depression by 15 months. The pattern was of mild but typical depressive symptoms. Residual symptoms were more common in subjects with more severe initial illness, but were not related to any other predictors, including longer prior illness, dysthymia, or lower dose of drug treatment during the illness episode. There were weak associations with personality that might have been consequences of symptom presence. Residual symptoms were very strong predictors of subsequent early relapse, which occurred in 76% (13/17) of those with residual symptoms and 25% (10/40) of those without.
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              A double-blind, multicenter trial comparing duloxetine with placebo in the treatment of fibromyalgia patients with or without major depressive disorder.

              To assess the efficacy and safety of duloxetine, a serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, in subjects with primary fibromyalgia, with or without current major depressive disorder. This study was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial conducted in 18 outpatient research centers in the US. A total of 207 subjects meeting the American College of Rheumatology criteria for primary fibromyalgia were enrolled (89% female, 87% white, mean age 49 years, 38% with current major depressive disorder). After single-blind placebo treatment for 1 week, subjects were randomly assigned to receive duloxetine 60 mg twice a day (n = 104) or placebo (n = 103) for 12 weeks. Co-primary outcome measures were the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ) total score (score range 0-80, with 0 indicating no impact) and FIQ pain score (score range 0-10). Secondary outcome measures included mean tender point pain threshold, number of tender points, FIQ fatigue, tiredness on awakening, and stiffness scores, Clinical Global Impression of Severity (CGI-Severity) scale, Patient Global Impression of Improvement (PGI-Improvement) scale, Brief Pain Inventory (short form), Medical Outcomes Study Short Form 36, Quality of Life in Depression Scale, and Sheehan Disability Scale. Compared with placebo-treated subjects, duloxetine-treated subjects improved significantly more (P = 0.027) on the FIQ total score, with a treatment difference of -5.53 (95% confidence interval -10.43, -0.63), but not significantly more on the FIQ pain score (P = 0.130). Compared with placebo-treated subjects, duloxetine-treated subjects had significantly greater reductions in Brief Pain Inventory average pain severity score (P = 0.008), Brief Pain Inventory average interference from pain score (P = 0.004), number of tender points (P = 0.002), and FIQ stiffness score (P = 0.048), and had significantly greater improvement in mean tender point pain threshold (P = 0.002), CGI-Severity (P = 0.048), PGI-Improvement (P = 0.033), and several quality-of-life measures. Duloxetine treatment improved fibromyalgia symptoms and pain severity regardless of baseline status of major depressive disorder. Compared with placebo-treated female subjects (n = 92), duloxetine-treated female subjects (n = 92) demonstrated significantly greater improvement on most efficacy measures, while duloxetine-treated male subjects (n = 12) failed to improve significantly on any efficacy measure. The treatment effect on significant pain reduction in female subjects was independent of the effect on mood or anxiety. Duloxetine was safely administered and well tolerated. In this randomized, controlled, 12-week trial (with a 1-week placebo lead-in phase), duloxetine was an effective and safe treatment for many of the symptoms associated with fibromyalgia in subjects with or without major depressive disorder, particularly for women, who had significant improvement across most outcome measures.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                CNS Spectrums
                CNS spectr.
                Cambridge University Press (CUP)
                1092-8529
                2165-6509
                September 2005
                November 07 2014
                September 2005
                : 10
                : 9
                : 732-747
                Article
                10.1017/S1092852900019726
                16142213
                © 2005

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