The therapeutic activity of selective serotonin (5-HT) reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) relies on long-term adaptation at pre- and post-synaptic levels. The sustained administration of SSRIs increases the serotonergic neurotransmission in response to a functional desensitization of the inhibitory 5-HT1A autoreceptor in the dorsal raphe. At nerve terminal such as the hippocampus, the enhancement of 5-HT availability increases brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) synthesis and signaling, a major event in the stimulation of adult neurogenesis. In physiological conditions, BDNF would be expressed at functionally relevant levels in neurons. However, the recent observation that SSRIs upregulate BDNF mRNA in primary cultures of astrocytes strongly suggest that the therapeutic activity of antidepressant drugs might result from an increase in BDNF synthesis in this cell type. In this study, by overexpressing BDNF in astrocytes, we balanced the ratio between astrocytic and neuronal BDNF raising the possibility that such manipulation could positively reverberate on anxiolytic-/antidepressant-like activities in transfected mice. Our results indicate that BDNF overexpression in hippocampal astrocytes produced anxiolytic-/antidepressant-like activity in the novelty suppressed feeding in relation with the stimulation of hippocampal neurogenesis whereas it did not potentiate the effects of the SSRI fluoxetine on these parameters. Moreover, overexpressing BDNF revealed the anxiolytic-like activity of fluoxetine in the elevated plus maze while attenuating 5-HT neurotransmission in response to a blunted downregulation of the 5-HT1A autoreceptor. These results emphasize an original role of hippocampal astrocytes in the synthesis of BDNF, which can act through neurogenesis-dependent and -independent mechanisms to regulate different facets of anxiolytic-like responses.
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSEThe link between type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and depression is bidirectional. However, the possibility that metabolic disorders may elicit anxiogenic-like/depressive-like symptoms or alter the efficacy of antidepressant drugs remains poorly documented. This study explored the influence of T2DM on emotionality and proposed a therapeutic strategy that might be used in depressed diabetic patients. EXPERIMENTAL APPROACHMice were fed a high-fat diet (HFD) and subjected to a full comprehensive metabolic and behavioural analysis to establish correlations between metabolic and psychiatric disorders. In vivo intra-hippocampal microdialysis was also applied to propose a mechanism underpinning the phenotype of mice fed the HFD. Finally, we tested whether chronic administration of the selective 5-HT reuptake inhibitor escitalopram or HFD withdrawal could reverse HFD-induced metabolic and behavioural anomalies. KEY RESULTSThe increased body weight, hyperglycaemia and impaired glucose tolerance in response to HFD were correlated with anxiogeniclike/depressive-like symptoms. Moreover, this phenotype was associated with decreased extracellular 5-HT levels in the hippocampus which may result from increased sensitivity of the dorsal raphe 5-HT 1A autoreceptor. Interestingly, the beneficial effect of prolonged administration of escitalopram was abolished in HFD-fed mice. On the contrary, HFD withdrawal completely reversed metabolic impairments and positively changed symptoms of anxiety, although some behavioural anomalies persisted. CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONSOur data provide clear-cut evidence that both pathologies are finely correlated and associated with impaired 5-HT mediated neurotransmission in the hippocampus. Further experiments are warranted to define the most adequate strategy for the treatment of such co-morbidity. LINKED ARTICLES
Clinical and preclinical studies have implicated glial anomalies in major depression. Conversely, evidence suggests that the activity of antidepressant drugs is based, at least in part, on their ability to stimulate density and/or activity of astrocytes, a major glial cell population. Despite this recent evidence, little is known about the mechanism(s) by which astrocytes regulate emotionality. Glial cells communicate with each other through gap junction channels (GJCs), while they can also directly interact with neurons by releasing gliotransmitters in the extracellular compartment via an hemichannels (HCs)-dependent process. Both GJCs and HCs are formed by two main protein subunits: connexins (Cx) 30 and 43 (Cx30 and Cx43). Here we investigate the role of hippocampal Cx43 in the regulation of depression-like symptoms using genetic and pharmacological approaches. The first aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of the constitutive knock-down of Cx43 on a set of behaviors known to be affected in depression. Conversely, the expression of Cx43 was assessed in the hippocampus of mice subjected to prolonged corticosterone (CORT) exposure, given either alone or in combination with an antidepressant drug, the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor fluoxetine. Our results indicate that the constitutive deficiency of Cx43 resulted in the expression of some characteristic hallmarks of antidepressant-/anxiolytic-like behavioral activities along with an improvement of cognitive performances. Moreover, in a new cohort of wild-type mice, we showed that CORT exposure elicited anxiety and depression-like abnormalities that were reversed by chronic administration of fluoxetine. Remarkably, CORT also increased hippocampal amounts of phosphorylated form of Cx43 whereas fluoxetine treatment normalized this parameter. From these results, we envision that antidepressant drugs may exert their therapeutic activity by decreasing the expression and/or activity of Cx43 resulting from a lower level of phosphorylation in the hippocampus.
Fixed human brain samples in tissue repositories hold great potential for unlocking complexities of the brain and its alteration with disease. However, current methodology for simultaneously resolving complex three-dimensional (3D) cellular anatomy and organization, as well as, intricate details of human brain cells in tissue has been limited due to weak labeling characteristics of the tissue and high background levels. To expose the potential of these samples, we developed a method to overcome these major limitations. This approach offers an unprecedented view of cytoarchitecture and subcellular detail of human brain cells, from cellular networks to individual synapses. Applying the method to AD samples, we expose complex features of microglial cells and astrocytes in the disease. Through this methodology, we show that these cells form specialized 3D structures in AD that we refer to as reactive glial nets (RGNs). RGNs are areas of concentrated neuronal injury, inflammation, and tauopathy and display unique features around β-amyloid plaque types. RGNs have conserved properties in an AD mouse model and display a developmental pattern coinciding with the progressive accumulation of neuropathology. The method provided here will help reveal novel features of the healthy and diseased human brain, and aid experimental design in translational brain research.
Most preclinical studies investigating the effects and the mechanism of action of antidepressants have been performed in naive rodents. This is inappropriate because antidepressants act on specific symptoms of the pathological condition, such as distress and anxiety. We have developed a mouse model of anxiety/depression based on addition of corticosterone to drinking water. This model is highly reproducible and easy to set up compared with unpredictable chronic mild stress. The serotonin 1A (5-HT 1A ) autoreceptor is known to play a role in mood disorders and their treatments. An increase in somatodendritic 5-HT 1A autoreceptor density in the dorsal raphe (DR) attenuates the therapeutic activity of selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), whereas their functional desensitization promotes activation of brain serotonergic transmission, thereby representing an adaptive change relevant to their therapeutic effect. Here we assessed the effects of sustained administration of the SSRI fluoxetine on 5-HT 1A autoreceptor sensitivity in mice administered with corticosterone. Fluoxetine attenuated hypothermia induced by the 5-HT 1A receptor agonist 8-hydroxy-2-(di-n-propylamino)tetralin, decreased DR 5-HT neuronal activity, and decreased 5-HT release in both vehicle-and corticosterone-pretreated mice. However, such desensitization was more pronounced in corticosterone-pretreated mice. This change had an overall effect on serotonergic tone because we found a greater firing rate of 5-HT neurons associated with an enhancement of 5-HT outflow in the DR of corticosterone-pretreated mice in response to fluoxetine compared with the corresponding group of vehicle-pretreated mice. These results provide cellular explanations for the antidepressant effects produced by SSRIs in subjects with pathological conditions but not in naive animals or healthy volunteers.
Although studies support the hypothesis that the inactivation of 5-HT(2A) and/or 5-HT(2C) receptors might be of interest to reinforce different facets of the therapeutic activity of SSRIs, this pharmacological strategy remains debatable notably because of the lack of chronic data in relevant animal models. Conversely, emerging evidence suggests that the activation of 5-HT(2B) receptor is required for antidepressant-like activity, opening the way to new therapeutic approaches. However, the potential risks related to the enhancement of monoaminergic neurotransmissions could represent a major concern.
Antidepressant drugs such as the serotonin (5-HT)/norepinephrine (NE) and dopamine (DA) reuptake inhibitors activate monoaminergic neurotransmission in various brain regions, such as the amygdala, the frontal cortex or the hippocampus. Although this property is well established, the post-synaptic mechanisms by which these pharmacological agents exert therapeutic activity in major depressive disorders (MDD) is not fully understood. Recent clinical and preclinical studies have indicated that the density and reactivity of glia and more particularly of astrocytes are reduced in MDD patients. These data along with the fact that astrocytes express monoaminergic transporters and receptors make these cells putative targets for antidepressant treatments. Accordingly, in vitro evidence has demonstrated that the application of various classes of antidepressant drugs on rodent primary astrocyte cultures elicits a wide spectrum of responses, from the rise in cytosolic calcium concentrations, as a marker of cellular activity, to the release of glucose metabolites, gliotransmitters and neurotrophic factors. Remarkably, antidepressant drugs also attenuate the release of inflammatory molecules from reactive astrocytes or microglia, suggesting that part of the beneficial effects in depressed patients or animal models of depression might result from the ability of antidepressants to regulate the synthesis and release of psychoactive substances acting on both pre- and post-synaptic neurons. Among the many long-term targets of antidepressant drugs, brainderived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) has been well studied because of the positive influence on adult hippocampal neurogenesis, synaptogenesis and the local serotonergic tone. This review will illustrate how the concept of the tripartite synapse, which is classically associated with different forms of plasticity involving glutamate, could be expanded to the monoaminergic systems to regulate antidepressant drug responses. The recent in vivo data supporting that hippocampal astrocytes act in concert with neurons to release BDNF under pharmacological conditions and thereby regulate different facets of anxiolytic-/antidepressant-like activities through neurogenesis-dependent and independent mechanisms will be emphasized.
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