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J Neurosci. 2003 Nov 26;23(34):10841-51.

Gene profile of electroconvulsive seizures: induction of neurotrophic and angiogenic factors.

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Division of Molecular Psychiatry, Abraham Ribicoff Research Facilities, Connecticut Mental Health Center, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06508, USA.


Electroconvulsive seizure therapy (ECS) is a clinically proven treatment for depression and is often effective even in patients resistant to chemical antidepressants. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying the therapeutic efficacy of ECS are not fully understood. One theory that has gained attention is that ECS and other antidepressants increase the expression of select neurotrophic factors that could reverse or block the atrophy and cell loss resulting from stress and depression. To further address this topic, we examined the expression of other neurotrophic-growth factors and related signaling pathways in the hippocampus in response to ECS using a custom growth factor microarray chip. We report the regulation of several genes that are involved in growth factor and angiogenic-endothelial signaling, including neuritin, stem cell factor, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), VGF (nonacronymic), cyclooxygenase-2, and tissue inhibitor of matrix metalloproteinase-1. Some of these, as well as other growth factors identified, including VEGF, basic fibroblast growth factor, and brain-derived neurotrophic factor, have roles in mediating neurogenesis and cell proliferation in the adult brain. We also examined gene expression in the choroid plexus and found several growth factors that are enriched in this vascular tissue as well as regulated by ECS. These data suggest that an amplification of growth factor signaling combined with angiogenic mechanisms could have an important role in the molecular action of ECS. This study demonstrates the applicability of custom-focused microarray technology in addressing hypothesis-driven questions regarding the action of antidepressants.

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