Paroxetine hydrochloride and paroxetine mesylate belong to a class of antidepressant agents known as selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Despite distinct structural differences between compounds in this class, SSRIs possess similar pharmacological activity. As with other antidepressant agents, several weeks of therapy may be required before a clinical effect is seen. SSRIs are potent inhibitors of neuronal serotonin reuptake. They have little to no effect on norepinephrine or dopamine reuptake and do not antagonize α- or β-adrenergic, dopamine D<sub>2</sub> or histamine H<sub>1</sub> receptors. During acute use, SSRIs block serotonin reuptake and increase serotonin stimulation of somatodendritic 5-HT<sub>1A</sub> and terminal autoreceptors. Chronic use leads to desensitization of somatodendritic 5-HT<sub>1A</sub> and terminal autoreceptors. The overall clinical effect of increased mood and decreased anxiety is thought to be due to adaptive changes in neuronal function that leads to enhanced serotonergic neurotransmission. Side effects include dry mouth, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, sexual dysfunction and headache (see Toxicity section below for a complete listing of side effects). Side effects generally occur during the first two weeks of therapy and are usually less severe and frequent than those observed with tricyclic antidepressants. Paroxetine hydrochloride and mesylate are considered therapeutic alternatives rather than generic equivalents by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA); both agents contain the same active moiety (i.e. paroxetine), but are formulated as different salt forms. Clinical studies establishing the efficacy of paroxetine in various conditions were performed using paroxetine hydrochloride. Since both agents contain the same active moiety, the clinical efficacy of both agents is thought to be similar. Paroxetine may be used to treat major depressive disorder (MDD), panic disorder with or without agoraphobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), social anxiety disorder (social phobia), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). Paroxetine has the most evidence supporting its use for anxiety-related disorders of the SSRIs. It has the greatest anticholinergic activity of the agents in this class and compared to other SSRIs, paroxetine may cause greater weight gain, sexual dysfunction, sedation and constipation.
Labeled indications include: major depressive disorder (MDD), panic disorder with or without agoraphobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), social anxiety disorder (social phobia), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). Unlabeled indications include: eating disorders, impulse control disorders, vasomotor symptoms of menopause, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in children, and mild dementia-associated agitation in nonpsychotic individuals. Brisdelle, which consists of paroxetine mesylate is indicated for the treatment of moderate to severe vasomotor symptoms (like hot flashes) associated with menopause.
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.
Mechanism of action
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.
Route of administration
Antidepressive Agents, Second-Generation
Central Nervous System Agents
Chemical Actions and Uses
Cytochrome P-450 CYP1A2 Inhibitors
Cytochrome P-450 CYP1A2 Inhibitors (weak)
Cytochrome P-450 CYP2B6 Inhibitors
Cytochrome P-450 CYP2B6 Inhibitors (moderate)
Cytochrome P-450 CYP2C8 Inhibitors
Cytochrome P-450 CYP2C9 Inhibitors
Cytochrome P-450 CYP2D6 Inhibitors
Cytochrome P-450 CYP2D6 Inhibitors (strong)
Cytochrome P-450 CYP2D6 Substrates
Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme Inhibitors
Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions
Heterocyclic Compounds, 1-Ring
Membrane Transport Modulators
Metabolic Side Effects of Drugs and Substances
Molecular Mechanisms of Pharmacological Action
Neurotransmitter Uptake Inhibitors
Physiological Effects of Drugs
QTc-Prolonging Agents (Indeterminate Risk and Risk Modifying)
Drug Info/Drug Targets: DrugBank 3.0: a comprehensive resource for 'omics' research on drugs. Knox C, Law V, Jewison
T, Liu P, Ly S, Frolkis A, Pon A, Banco K, Mak C, Neveu V, Djoumbou Y, Eisner R, Guo AC, Wishart DS.
Nucleic Acids Res. 2011 Jan; 39 (Database issue):D1035-41. | PMID:21059682