The interaction of the S- and R-enantiomers (escitalopram and R-citalopram) of citalopram, with high- and low-affinity binding sites in COS-1 cell membranes expressing human SERT (hSERT) were investigated. Escitalopram affinity for hSERT and its 5-HT uptake inhibitory potency was in the nanomolar range and approximately 40-fold more potent than R-citalopram. Escitalopram considerably stabilised the [3H]-escitalopram/SERT complex via an allosteric effect at a low-affinity binding site. The stereoselectivity between escitalopram and R-citalopram was approximately 3:1 for the [3H]-escitalopram/hSERT complex. The combined effect of escitalopram and R-citalopram was additive. Paroxetine and sertraline mainly stabilised the [3H]-paroxetine/hSERT complex. Fluoxetine, duloxetine and venlafaxine have only minor effects. 5-HT stabilised the [125I]-RTI-55, [3H]-MADAM, [3H]-paroxetine, [3H]-fluoxetine and [3H]-venlafaxine/SERT complex to some extent. Thus, escitalopram shows a unique interaction with the hSERT compared with other 5-HT reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and, in addition to its 5-HT reuptake inhibitory properties, displays a pronounced effect via an affinity-modulating allosteric site.
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