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Biol Psychiatry. 2010 Nov 1;68(9):869-72. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2010.07.023. Epub 2010 Sep 22.

α₂-Adrenoceptor functionality in postmortem frontal cortex of depressed suicide victims.

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  • 1Instituto de Biomedicina y Biotecnología de Cantabria, Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, University of Cantabria, Santander, Spain.



Alterations in brain density and signaling associated with monoamine receptors are believed to play a role in depressive disorders. This study evaluates the functional status of α₂(A)-adrenoceptors in postmortem frontal cortex of depressed subjects.


G-protein activation and inhibition of adenylyl cyclase (AC) activity induced by the α₂-adrenoceptor agonist UK14304 were measured in triplicate in samples from 15 suicide victims with an antemortem diagnosis of major depression and 15 matched control subjects.


Basal [³⁵S] guanosine γ thio-phosphate (GTPγS) binding and cyclic adenosine monophosphate accumulation did not differ between groups. In depressed victims, an increase in [³⁵S] GTPγS binding potency (EC₅₀ = .58 μmol/L vs. EC₅₀ = 3.31 μmol/L; p < .01; depressed vs. control) and a significant reduction in the maximal inhibition of AC activity (I(max) = 27 ± 4% vs. I(max) = 47 ± 5%; p < .01) were observed after incubation with the α(2)-adrenoceptor agonist UK14304. No differences were found between antidepressant-free and antidepressant-treated subjects. A significant relationship between EC₅₀ values for [³⁵S] GTPγS and I(max) values for AC assay was found (n = 30; r = -.43; p < .05).


The dual regulation of α(2A)-adrenoceptor signaling pathways raises the possibility that factors affecting the G-protein cycle and/or selective access of Gα(i/o)-protein to AC might be relevant to receptor abnormalities in depression, providing further support for the involvement of α₂(A)-adrenoceptors in the pathogenesis of depression.

Copyright © 2010 Society of Biological Psychiatry. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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