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Biol Psychiatry. 2010 Jan 15;67(2):117-24. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2009.08.025.

Antidepressant-like effects of medial prefrontal cortex deep brain stimulation in rats.

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Neuroimaging Research Section, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Ontario M5T 1R8, Canada.



Subcallosal cingulate gyrus (SCG) deep brain stimulation (DBS) is being investigated as a treatment for major depression. We report on the effects of ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) DBS in rats, focusing on possible mechanisms involved in an antidepressant-like response in the forced swim test (FST).


The outcome of vmPFC stimulation alone or combined with different types of lesions, including serotonin (5-HT) or norepineprhine (NE) depletion, was characterized in the FST. We also explored the effects of DBS on novelty-suppressed feeding, learned helplessness, and sucrose consumption in animals predisposed to helplessness.


Stimulation at parameters approximating those used in clinical practice induced a significant antidepressant-like response in the FST. Ventromedial PFC lesions or local muscimol injections did not lead to a similar outcome. However, animals treated with vmPFC ibotenic acid lesions still responded to DBS, suggesting that the modulation of fiber near the electrodes could play a role in the antidepressant-like effects of stimulation. Also important was the integrity of the serotonergic system, as the effects of DBS in the FST were completely abolished in animals bearing 5-HT, but not NE, depleting lesions. In addition, vmPFC stimulation induced a sustained increase in hippocampal 5-HT levels. Preliminary work with other models showed that DBS was also able to influence specific aspects of depressive-like states in rodents, including anxiety and anhedonia, but not helplessness.


Our study suggests that vmPFC DBS in rats may be useful to investigate mechanisms involved in the antidepressant effects of SCG DBS.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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