Paroxetine is a potent and highly selective inhibitor of neuronal serotonin reuptake. Paroxetine likely inhibits the reuptake of serotonin at the neuronal membrane, enhances serotonergic neurotransmission by reducing turnover of the neurotransmitter, therefore it prolongs its activity at synaptic receptor sites and potentiates 5-HT in the CNS; paroxetine is more potent than both sertraline and fluoxetine in its ability to inhibit 5-HT reuptake. Compared to the tricyclic antidepressants, SSRIs have dramatically decreased binding to histamine, acetylcholine, and norepinephrine receptors. The mechanism of action for the treatment of vasomotor symptoms is unknown.
Paroxetine, an antidepressant drug of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) type, has no active metabolites and has the highest specificity for serotonin receptors of all the SSRIs. It is used to treat depression resistant to other antidepressants, depression complicated by anxiety, panic disorder, social and general anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), premenstrual dysphoric disorder, premature ejaculation, and hot flashes of menopause in women with breast cancer. In human platelets, paroxetine blocks the uptake of serotonin. It has weak effects on norepinephrine and dopamine neuronal reuptake. In vitro radioligand binding studies indicate that paroxetine has little affinity for muscarinic alpha1-, alpha2-, beta-adrenergic-, dopamine (D2)-, 5-HT1-, 5-HT2-, and histamine (H1)-receptors.
Paroxetine is extensively metabolized after oral administration, likely in the liver. The main metabolites are polar and conjugated products of oxidation and methylation, which are readily eliminated by the body. The predominant metabolites are glucuronic acid and sulfate conjugates. Paroxetine metabolites do not possess significant pharmacologic activity (less than 2% that of parent compound). Paroxetine is metabolized by cytochrome P450 (CYP) 2D6. Enzyme saturation appears to account for the nonlinear pharmacokinetics observed with increasing dose and duration of therapy.
LD50=500mg/kg (orally in mice). Symptoms of overdose include: coma, dizziness, drowsiness, facial flushing, nausea, sweating, tremor, vomiting. Side effects include: nervous system effects such as asthenia, somnolence, dizziness, insomnia, tremor, and nervousness; GI effects such as nausea, decreased appetite, constipation, diarrhea, and dry mouth; impotence, ejaculatory dysfunction (principally ejaculatory delay), and other male genital disorders; female genital disorders (principally anorgasmia or difficulty reaching climax/orgasm); and sweating. Discontinuation syndrome may occur with abrupt withdrawal. Symptoms of discontinuation syndrome include flu-like symptoms, insomnia, nausea, imbalance, sensory changes, and hyperactivity.