Clin Psychopharmacol Neurosci.  2018 Aug;16(3):253-261. 10.9758/cpn.2018.16.3.253.

Different Endocrine Effects of an Evening Dose of Amitriptyline, Escitalopram, and Placebo in Healthy Participants

  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Medical Center - University of Freiburg, Faculty of Medicine - University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany.,
  • 2University Hospital of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland.
  • 3Neuroscience Center, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland.
  • 4Schön Klinik Roseneck, Prien, Germany.


The primary aim of this study was to further characterize the acute effects of amitriptyline (AMI) and escitalopram (ESC) on serum levels of ghrelin, leptin, cortisol and prolactin in healthy humans.
Eleven healthy male participants received a single dose of AMI 75 mg, ESC 10 mg, or placebo (PLA) at 9:00 PM in a double blind, randomized, controlled, repeated measures study separated by one week. Fasting morning serum levels (7:00 AM) of ghrelin, leptin, cortisol and prolactin were assessed.
A repeated measures multivariate analysis of variance revealed a significant main effect for the factor condition (AMI, ESC, PLA). Subsequent univariate analyses demonstrated significant condition effects for ghrelin and cortisol. Post-hoc analyses demonstrated a significant reduction of ghrelin levels after AMI in comparison to PLA, and a significant reduction of cortisol levels after AMI in comparison to both ESC and PLA. Other contrasts did not reach statistical significance.
Administration of a single dose of AMI, but not of ESC, leads to a significant reduction in morning serum ghrelin and cortisol levels. No effects on leptin and prolactin levels were observed. The differential impact of AMI and ESC on hormones might contribute to different adverse effect profiles of both substances.


Ghrelin; Leptin; Prolactin; Cortisol; Weight gain; Adverse effects
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