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J Neurosci. 2007 May 2;27(18):4894-901.

Antidepressant-induced neurogenesis in the hippocampus of adult nonhuman primates.

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Department of Biological Psychiatry, New York State Psychiatric Institute New York, New York 10032, USA.


New neurons are generated in the adult hippocampus of many species including rodents, monkeys, and humans. Conditions associated with major depression, such as social stress, suppress hippocampal neurogenesis in rodents and primates. In contrast, all classes of antidepressants stimulate neuronal generation, and the behavioral effects of these medications are abolished when neurogenesis is blocked. These findings generated the hypothesis that induction of neurogenesis is a necessary component in the mechanism of action of antidepressant treatments. To date, the effects of antidepressants on newborn neurons have been reported only in rodents and tree shrews. This study examines whether neurogenesis is increased in nonhuman primates after antidepressant treatment. Adult monkeys received repeated electroconvulsive shock (ECS), which is the animal analog of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), the most effective short-term antidepressant. Compared with control conditions, ECS robustly increased precursor cell proliferation in the subgranular zone (SGZ) of the dentate gyrus in the monkey hippocampus. A majority of these precursors differentiated into neurons or endothelial cells, while a few matured into glial cells. The ECS-mediated induction of cell proliferation and neurogenesis was accompanied by increased immunoreactivity for the neuroprotective gene product BCL2 (B cell chronic lymphocytic lymphoma 2) in the SGZ. The ECS interventions were not accompanied by increased hippocampal cell death or injury. This study demonstrates that ECS is capable of inducing neurogenesis in the nonhuman primate hippocampus and supports the possibility that antidepressant interventions produce similar alterations in the human brain.

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