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Neuroadaptive responses to citalopram in rats using pharmacological magnetic resonance imaging

Lookup NU author(s): Sakthivel SEKAR, Professor Andrew BlamireORCiD, Dr Mohammed Shoaib


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The majority of psychoactive compounds, including antidepressants in clinical practice, were discovered largely by serendipity. The underlying neuropharmacological mechanisms of action of these compounds leading to resolution of depressive symptomatology are targets of the current research. Pharmacological magnetic resonance imaging (phMRI), a rapidly developing advancement of blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) contrast offers the potential to localize the regional sites of action in the CNS. Acute and chronic effects of the clinically effective selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) citalopram were examined for changes in BOLD contrast using phMRI in rats. To pharmacologically characterize the specific involvement of the 5-HT1A receptors, citalopram was co-administered with a highly selective 5-HT1A receptor antagonist WAY100635. Acute citalopram treatment (10 and 20 mg/kg i.p.) produced a widespread and dose-dependent activation throughout the whole brain. Following 14 days of chronic daily administration of citalopram (20 mg/kg i.p.), localized effects were observed; regions integral in the therapeutic antidepressant effects included the hypothalamus, hippocampus, and cortical regions, suggesting desensitization of serotonergic receptors in the midbrain contributing to elevated levels of 5-HT. Co-administration with WAY100635 (0.3 mg/kg s.c.) increased BOLD activation in the frontal cortex and decreased BOLD contrast in the hypothalamus, hippocampus, and hindbrain structures. The present findings highlight the adaptive nature of responses to citalopram which exhibits regional and pharmacological specificity. These findings translate well to the clinical findings and suggest that this approach may offer the opportunity to develop more efficacious antidepressants with a faster clinical response.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Sekar S, Verhoye M, Van Audekerke J, Vanhoutte G, Lowe AS, Blamire AM, Steckler T, Van der Linden A, Shoaib M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Psychopharmacology

Year: 2011

Volume: 213

Issue: 2-3

Pages: 521-531

Print publication date: 01/02/2011

ISSN (print): 0033-3158

ISSN (electronic): 1432-2072

Publisher: Springer


DOI: 10.1007/s00213-010-2084-4


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