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J Neurochem. 2005 Jun;93(5):1345-52.

Metabotropic glutamate receptors and neuroadaptation to antidepressants: imipramine-induced down-regulation of beta-adrenergic receptors in mice treated with metabotropic glutamate 2/3 receptor ligands.

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  • 1Department of Human Physiology and Pharmacology, University of Rome La Sapienza, Rome, Italy.


Antidepressant drugs have a clinical latency that correlates with the development of neuroadaptive changes, including down-regulation of beta-adrenergic receptors in different brain regions. The identification of drugs that shorten this latency will have a great impact on the treatment of major depressive disorders. We report that the time required for the antidepressant imipramine to reduce the expression of beta-adrenergic receptors in the hippocampus is reduced by a co-administration with centrally active ligands of type 2/3 metabotropic glutamate (mGlu2/3) receptors. Daily treatment of mice with imipramine alone (10 mg/kg, i.p.) reduced the expression of beta-adrenergic receptors in the hippocampus after 21 days, but not at shorter times, as assessed by western blot analysis of beta1-adrenergic receptors and by the amount of specifically bound [3H]CGP-12177, a selective beta-adrenergic receptor ligand. Down-regulation of beta-adrenergic receptors occurred at shorter times (i.e. after 14 days) when imipramine was combined with low doses (0.5 mg/kg, i.p.) of the selective mGlu2/3 receptor agonist LY379268, or with the preferential mGlu2/3 receptor antagonist LY341495 (1 mg/kg, i.p.). Higher doses of LY379268 (2 mg/kg, i.p.) were inactive. This intriguing finding suggests that neuroadaptation to imipramine--at least as assessed by changes in the expression of beta1-adrenergic receptors--is influenced by drugs that interact with mGlu2/3 receptors and stimulates further research aimed at establishing whether any of these drugs can shorten the clinical latency of classical antidepressants.

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