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Eur J Pharmacol. 1999 Apr 29;371(2-3):113-22.

Effects of antidepressants and benzodiazepine treatments on the dendritic structure of CA3 pyramidal neurons after chronic stress.

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The Rockefeller University, New York, NY 10021, USA.


Both repeated stress and corticosterone administration induce remodeling of apical dendrites of hippocampal CA3 pyramidal neurons. Circulating glucocorticoids are involved in the mechanism that produces atrophy, along with excitatory amino acids and serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT). We used 5-HT-related antidepressants and a benzodiazepine in order to explore indirectly the role of serotonin and GABA(A)-benzodiazepine receptors in the stress-induced structural changes visualized by the Golgi impregnation of the rat hippocampus. The 5-HT reuptake enhancer (+/-)-tianeptine prevented the dendritic atrophy caused by repeated restraint stress in a non-stereoselective fashion and two 5-HT reuptake antagonists, fluoxetine and fluvoxamine, failed to block dendritic atrophy. Tianeptine also functions as a therapeutic tool since it reversed the already established hippocampal atrophy caused by treatment with corticosterone for 3 weeks. Finally, the benzodiazepine agonist adinazolam was effective in preventing the stress-induced dendritic atrophy. These findings suggest that the synaptic availability of 5-HT is involved in the mechanism leading to stress-induced dendritic remodeling and supports the idea that the hippocampal inhibitory GABAergic tone may play a regulatory role.

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