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Genes Brain Behav. 2011 Jul;10(5):542-50. doi: 10.1111/j.1601-183X.2011.00691.x. Epub 2011 Apr 13.

Decreased neuronal Na+, K+ -ATPase activity in Atp1a3 heterozygous mice increases susceptibility to depression-like endophenotypes by chronic variable stress.

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Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, Mount Sinai Hospital and Institute of Medical Science, University of Toronto, 600 University Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Unipolar depression and bipolar depression are prevalent and debilitating diseases in need of effective novel treatments. It is becoming increasingly evident that depressive disorders manifest from a combination of inherited susceptibility genes and environmental stress. Genetic mutations resulting in decreased neuronal Na(+) ,K(+) -ATPase (sodium-potassium adenosine triphosphatase) activity may put individuals at risk for depression given that decreased Na(+) ,K(+) -ATPase activity is observed in depressive disorders and animal models of depression. Here, we show that Na(+) ,K(+) -ATPase α3 heterozygous mice (Atp1a3(+/-) ), with 15% reduced neuronal Na(+) ,K(+) -ATPase activity, are vulnerable to develop increased depression-like endophenotypes in a chronic variable stress (CVS) paradigm compared to wild-type littermates (Atp1a3(+/+) ). In Atp1a3(+/+) mice CVS did not decrease Na(+) ,K(+) -ATPase activity, however led to despair-like behavior in the tail suspension test (TST), anhedonia in a sucrose preference test and a minimal decrease in sociability, whereas in Atp1a3(+/-) mice CVS decreased neuronal Na(+) ,K(+) -ATPase activity to 33% of wild-type levels, induced despair-like behavior in the TST, anhedonia in a sucrose preference test, anxiety in the elevated plus maze, a memory deficit in a novel object recognition task and sociability deficits in a social interaction test. We found that a mutation that decreases neuronal Na(+) ,K(+) -ATPase activity interacts with stress to exacerbate depression. Furthermore, we observed an interesting correlation between Na(+) ,K(+) -ATPase activity and mood that may relate to both unipolar depression and bipolar disorder. Pharmaceuticals that increase Na(+) ,K(+) -ATPase activity or block endogenous Na(+) , K(+) -ATPase inhibition may provide effective treatment for depressive disorders and preclude depression in susceptible individuals.

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