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Int J Neuropsychopharmacol. 2009 Nov;12(10):1367-81. doi: 10.1017/S1461145709000376. Epub 2009 Apr 29.

Early induction of CREB activation and CREB-regulating signalling by antidepressants.

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Center of Neuropharmacology, Department of Pharmacological Sciences and Center of Excellence on Neurodegenerative Diseases, University of Milan, Italy.


Converging evidence points to adaptive changes in neuroplasticity and gene expression as mediators of therapeutic action of antidepressants. Activation of cAMP response-element binding protein (CREB) and CREB-regulating signalling are considered main effectors in these mechanisms. We analysed the temporal profile of intracellular changes induced by antidepressants, by measuring activation of major CREB-regulating signalling cascades and activation (Ser133 phosphorylation) of CREB. The main aims of the study were to investigate how these different variables are modulated with time, whether stronger activation of signalling cascades corresponds to stronger activation of CREB, and whether these changes are different in distinct brain areas. Rat groups were treated for 1, 2 or 3 wk with the antidepressants fluoxetine or reboxetine; in additional groups drug treatment was followed by a washout week (3+1). Activation of CREB and major effectors in signalling cascades were analysed by Western blot analysis with phospho-antibodies, in nuclear and cytosolic fractions from hippocampus and prefrontal/frontal cortex (P/FC). Surprisingly, CREB activation was already maximal after 1-wk treatment. In hippocampus early and stronger CREB activation was consistent with early and stronger activation of signalling. For both drugs, the profile of activation in P/FC was different from that observed in hippocampus. The results also showed that, contrary to the activatory role of MAP-ERKs and CaM kinase IV, nuclear alphaCaM kinase II was inactivated in parallel with activation of CREB.

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