The Antidepressant Paroxetine Reduces the Cardiac Sodium Current

Ingmar S. Plijter, Arie O. Verkerk, Ronald Wilders

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A considerable amount of literature has been published on antidepressants and cardiac ion channel dysfunction. The antidepressant paroxetine has been associated with Brugada syndrome and long QT syndrome, albeit on the basis of conflicting findings. The cardiac voltage-gated sodium channel (NaV1.5) is related to both of these syndromes, suggesting that paroxetine may have an effect on this channel. In the present study, we therefore carried out patch clamp experiments to examine the effect of paroxetine on human NaV1.5 channels stably expressed in human embryonic kidney 293 (HEK-293) cells as well as on action potentials of isolated rabbit left ventricular cardiomyocytes. Additionally, computer simulations were conducted to test the functional effects of the experimentally observed paroxetine-induced changes in the NaV1.5 current. We found that paroxetine led to a decrease in peak NaV1.5 current in a concentration-dependent manner with an IC50 of 6.8 ± 1.1 µM. In addition, paroxetine caused a significant hyperpolarizing shift in the steady-state inactivation of the NaV1.5 current as well as a significant increase in its rate of inactivation. Paroxetine (3 µM) affected the action potential of the left ventricular cardiomyocytes, significantly decreasing its maximum upstroke velocity and amplitude, both of which are mainly regulated by the NaV1.5 current. Our computer simulations demonstrated that paroxetine substantially reduces the fast sodium current of human left ventricular cardiomyocytes, thereby slowing conduction and reducing excitability in strands of cells, in particular if conduction and excitability are already inhibited by a loss-of-function mutation in the NaV1.5 encoding SCN5A gene. In conclusion, paroxetine acts as an inhibitor of NaV1.5 channels, which may enhance the effects of loss-of-function mutations in SCN5A.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1904
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023


  • HEK-293 cells
  • Na1.5 channels
  • action potential
  • antidepressant drugs
  • cardiomyocytes
  • cellular electrophysiology
  • computer simulations
  • patch clamp recordings
  • sodium current

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