Dexfenfluramine neurotoxicity in brains of non-human primates

G. A. Ricaurte, M. B. Martello, A. L. Martello, M. A. Wilson, M. E. Molliver, J. L. Katz

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69 Scopus citations


Dexfenfluramine, a drug prescribed for appetite suppression, was evaluated in non-human primates for its potential to produce toxic effects on brain serotonin (5-HT) neurons. Squirrel monkeys received dexfenfluramine subcutaneously twice daily for four days at doses of 1·25 or 5·00 mg/kg. Two weeks later, a dose-related depletion of 5-HT and 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid was found, together with a reduced number of 5-HT uptake sites. Morphological studies showed acute pathological changes in 5-HT axons, followed by a persistent decrease in 5-HT axon density. Our findings indicate that dexfenfluramine damages central 5-HT neurons in monkeys and raise concern about the potential neurotoxicity of this drug in man.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1487-1488
Number of pages2
JournalThe Lancet
Issue number8781
StatePublished - Dec 14 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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