Maintenance treatment with fluoxetine is necessary to sustain normal levels of synaptic markers in an experimental model of depression: correlation with behavioral response.

Instituto de Investigaciones Farmacológicas (ININFA), CONICET, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Neuropsychopharmacology (Impact Factor: 7.83). 08/2008; 33(8):1896-908. DOI: 10.1038/sj.npp.1301596
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Dysfunction of hippocampal plasticity has been proposed to play a critical role in the pathophysiology of depression. However, antidepressant drug effects on synaptic plasticity and cytoskeletal remodeling remain controversial. The aim of the present study was to evaluate in animals exposed to the learned helplessness (LH) paradigm, an accepted experimental model of depression, the effect of chronic treatment with fluoxetine (FLX) on synaptic and cytoskeletal proteins known to undergo plastic changes. Synaptophysin (SYN), postsynaptic density 95 (PSD-95), axon growth-associated protein 43 (GAP-43), and cytoskeletal proteins (intermediate neurofilaments and MAP-2) were studied in the hippocampus by immunohistochemistry. Whereas LH animals treated 21 days with saline (LH-S group) displayed diminished SYN and PSD-95 immunostainings in the CA3 but not in the DG, chronic treatment with FLX not only reversed the despaired behavior induced by exposure to LH paradigm, but also fully recovered SYN and PSD-95 labeling to control values. Similar results were obtained for the axonal remodeling marker GAP-43. FLX treatment did not modify either the decreased light neurofilament subunit (NFL) observed in the hippocampus of LH animals or any other cytoskeletal protein studied. When FLX treatment was withdrawn for 90 days in those LH-FLX animals in which reversion of despair had been observed at day 25, recurrence of despaired behavior was found accompanied by decreased SYN, PSD-95, and NFL labelings. Results indicate that the synapse remodeling induced by FLX in the CA3 region could underlie its behavioral efficacy despite the absence of cytoskeletal remodeling and that the stability of synaptic changes would depend on the continuous administration of the drug.

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