The appetite suppressant d-fenfluramine induces apoptosis in human serotonergic cells

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Abstract

FENFLURAMINE is an amphetamine analogue which has been widely used in the treatment of obesity. In rodents, non-human primates, and humans, fenfluramine is associated with some indices of neurotoxicity, as well as pulmonary hypertension and cardiac valve pathology. In the present study, d-fenfluramine was found to be cytotoxic to the serotonin (5-HT) transporter (5-HTT) expressing human placental choriocarcinoma cells. d-Fenfluramine caused DNA fragmentation and apoptosis. Apoptosis was not observed after the 5-HTT had been blocked by fluoxetine, indicating that intact 5-HTT function is required for d-fenfluramine to induce programmed cell death. These observations in a human cell line may reflect a possible mechanism associated with the risks of fenfluramine administration in several species, including humans.

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