Association of Hyponatraemia and Antidepressant Drugs: A Pharmacovigilance–Pharmacodynamic Assessment Through an Analysis of the US Food and Drug Administration Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS) Database

Faizan Mazhar, Marco Pozzi, Marta Gentili, Marco Scatigna, Emilio Clementi, Sonia Radice, Carla Carnovale

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Background: Hyponatraemia induced by antidepressant drugs is a rare but potentially life-threatening adverse reaction. Whether it is associated with all or only some antidepressant drugs is still unclear. This needs to be clarified to guide antidepressant therapies, especially in patients with electrolytic imbalances. Objectives: The primary objective of this study was to quantify the strength of association between the use of different antidepressant drugs and hyponatraemia by using information reported to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS). The secondary objective was to investigate the putative relationship between different antidepressant pharmacological targets and the risks of hyponatraemia induced by antidepressant drugs using the ‘pharmacovigilance–pharmacodynamic’ method. Methods: We used the FAERS database to conduct a case/non-case analysis on spontaneous reports, focusing on events of hyponatraemia/syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion (SIADH) reported in connection with the use of antidepressant drugs. Risk was expressed as a measure of disproportionality using the reporting odds ratio while adjusting for sex, age and concomitant medications associated with hyponatraemia/SIADH. We assessed to what extent the receptor-binding properties of antidepressant drugs could associate with the reporting odds ratios of hyponatraemia/SIADH of antidepressant drugs, building a linear regression model that included as independent variables the binding affinities (pKi) to the serotonin transporter, dopamine transporter, norepinephrine transporter, and serotonin 5-HT 2C , 5-HT 2A and 5-HT 1A , and α 1 - and α 2 -adrenergic receptors. Results: There were 2233 reports identified. The adjusted reporting odds ratio for the association between antidepressant drug use and hyponatraemia was 1.91 (95% confidence interval 1.83–2.00). The association was strongest for mirtazapine, followed by selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and lowest with serotonin-modulating antidepressant drugs. A significant linear correlation was found between the adjusted reporting odds ratios for hyponatraemia and pKi for the adrenergic receptors α 1 and α 2 . Conclusions: Hyponatraemia is reported at a disproportionately higher level with classes of antidepressant drugs (noradrenergic and specific serotonergic antidepressant [mirtazapine] and serotonin modulators [vortioxetine]) that are in general considered to have a better profile of tolerability in terms of hyponatraemia. With regard to the presented results, the risk of hyponatraemia with mirtazapine appears to be greater than what was reported in the literature; however, confounding by indication cannot be ruled out. Our pharmacovigilance–pharmacodynamic analysis also indicates that inhibition of the serotonin transporter may not be involved in the hyponatraemia linked to the use of antidepressant drugs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)581-592
Number of pages12
JournalCNS Drugs
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2019


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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