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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Chronic antidepressant treatment selectively increases expression of plasticity-related proteins in the hippocampus and medial prefrontal cortex of the rat.

Antidepressants protect against hippocampal volume loss in humans and reverse stress-induced atrophic changes in animals thus supporting the hypothesis that the pathophysiology of stress-related disorders such as depression involves reductions in neuronal connectivity and this effect is reversible by antidepressant treatment. However, it is unclear which brain areas demonstrate such alterations in plasticity in response to antidepressant treatment. The aim of the present study was to examine the effect of antidepressant treatment on the expression of three plasticity-associated marker proteins, the polysialylated form of nerve cell adhesion molecule ( PSA-NCAM), phosphorylated cyclic-AMP response element binding protein (pCREB) and growth-associated protein 43 (GAP-43), in the rat brain. To this end, rats were treated either acutely (60 min) or chronically (21 days) with imipramine (30 and 15 mg/kg, respectively) and the expression of PSA-NCAM, pCREB, and GAP-43 was assessed using immunohistochemistry. Initial mapping revealed that chronic imipramine treatment increased expression of these plasticity-associated proteins in the hippocampus, medial prefrontal cortex and piriform cortex but not in the other brain regions examined. Since PSA-NCAM and pCREB are expressed in recently-generated neurons in the dentate gyrus, it is likely that chronic imipramine treatment increased their expression in the hippocampus at least partially by increasing neurogenesis. In contrast, since chronic imipramine treatment is not associated with neurogenesis in the medial prefrontal cortex, increased expression of PSA-NCAM and pCREB in the prelimbic cortex implicates changes in synaptic connectivity in this brain region. Acute treatment with imipramine increased the number of pCREB positive nuclei in the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex but did not alter expression of GAP-43 or PSA-NCAM in any of the brain regions examined. Taken together, the results of the present study suggest that antidepressant treatment increases synaptic plasticity and connectivity in brain regions associated with mood disorders.[1]


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