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Neuropsychopharmacology. 2005 Jan;30(1):67-79.

Chronic stress decreases the number of parvalbumin-immunoreactive interneurons in the hippocampus: prevention by treatment with a substance P receptor (NK1) antagonist.

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Clinical Neurobiology Laboratory, German Primate Center, Göttingen, Germany.


Previous studies have demonstrated that stress may affect the hippocampal GABAergic system. Here, we examined whether long-term psychosocial stress influenced the number of parvalbumin-containing GABAergic cells, known to provide the most powerful inhibitory input to the perisomatic region of principal cells. Adult male tree shrews were submitted to 5 weeks of stress, after which immunocytochemical and quantitative stereological techniques were used to estimate the total number of hippocampal parvalbumin-immunoreactive (PV-IR) neurons. Stress significantly decreased the number of PV-IR cells in the dentate gyrus (DG) (-33%), CA2 (-28%), and CA3 (-29%), whereas the CA1 was not affected. Additionally, we examined whether antidepressant treatment offered protection from this stress-induced effect. We administered fluoxetine (15 mg/kg per day) and SLV-323 (20 mg/kg per day), a novel neurokinin 1 receptor (NK1R) antagonist, because the NK1R has been proposed as a possible target for novel antidepressant therapies. Animals were subjected to a 7-day period of psychosocial stress before the onset of daily oral administration of the drugs, with stress continued throughout the 28-day treatment period. NK1R antagonist administration completely prevented the stress-induced reduction of the number of PV-IR interneurons, whereas fluoxetine attenuated this decrement in the DG, without affecting the CA2 and CA3. The effect of stress on interneuron numbers may reflect real cell loss; alternatively, parvalbumin concentration is diminished in the neurons, which might indicate a compensatory attempt. In either case, antidepressant treatment offered protection from the effect of stress and appears to modulate the hippocampal GABAergic system. Furthermore, the NK1R antagonist SLV-323 showed neurobiological efficacy similar to that of fluoxetine.

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