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J Mol Neurosci. 2008 Mar;34(3):201-9. doi: 10.1007/s12031-007-9016-8. Epub 2008 Jan 16.

VTA dopamine neuron bursting is altered in an animal model of depression and corrected by desipramine.

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Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel.


Ventral tegmental area (VTA) neuronal activity plays an important role in reward-related learning and motivation. Tracing the bursting signal is important for understanding neural state and understanding communication between individual neurons. The dopaminergic system, which projects from the VTA to other regions in the mesolimbic system, is involved in hedonia and motivation. However, the role of this system in the pathophysiology of depression and its manipulation for treatment of depression has received little attention. Inter-spike interval time series were recorded from the VTA of control Sprague-Dawley and Flinders sensitive line (FSL) rats with or without 14 days of desipramine (5 mg/kg) treatment. Comparison of the firing modes of control and desipramine-treated FSL rats reveals dissimilar patterns. Desipramine treatment normalized depressive-like behavior and elevated the dopaminergic mesolimbic activity, although not to control levels. Mesolimbic neuronal activity is known to occur either in burst or in single-spike firing mode. Herein, we suggest a third mode that is characterized as a "cluster" formed from burst and post-burst activity. A significant reduction in the activity of both bursts and cluster was detected in FSL rats, which was restored by desipramine treatment.

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