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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Aug 12;105(32):11352-7. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0710858105. Epub 2008 Aug 5.

Electroconvulsive seizure and VEGF increase the proliferation of neural stem-like cells in rat hippocampus.

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Laboratory of Molecular Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry and Pharmacology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06508, USA.


All classes of antidepressants increase hippocampal cell proliferation and neurogenesis, which contributes, in part, to the behavioral actions of these treatments. Among antidepressant treatments, electroconvulsive seizure (ECS) is the most robust stimulator of hippocampal cell proliferation and the most efficacious treatment for depression, but the cellular mechanisms underlying the actions of ECS are unknown. To address this question, we investigated the effect of ECS on proliferation of neural stem-like and/or progenitor cells in the subgranular zone of rat dentate gyrus. We define the neural differentiation cascade from stem-like cells to early neural progenitors (also referred to as quiescent and amplifying neural progenitors, respectively) by coexpression of selective cellular and mitotic activity markers. We find that at an early mitotic phase ECS increases the proliferation of quiescent progenitors and then at a later phase increases the proliferation of amplifying progenitors. We further demonstrate that vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) signaling is necessary for ECS induction of quiescent neural progenitor cell proliferation and is sufficient to produce this effect. These findings demonstrate that ECS and subsequent induction of VEGF stimulates the proliferation of neural stem-like cells and neural progenitor cells, thereby accounting for the superior neurogenic actions of ECS compared with chemical antidepressants.

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