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Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2012 Oct;223(3):281-97. doi: 10.1007/s00213-012-2714-0. Epub 2012 May 1.

Analysis of region-specific changes in gene expression upon treatment with citalopram and desipramine reveals temporal dynamics in response to antidepressant drugs at the transcriptome level.

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Department of Pharmacology, Institute of Pharmacology Polish Academy of Sciences, Smętna 12 Street, 31-343 Krakow, Poland.



The notion that the onset of action of antidepressant drugs (ADs) takes weeks is widely accepted; however, the sequence of events necessary for therapeutic effects still remains obscure.


We aimed to evaluate a time-course of ADs-induced alterations in the expression of 95 selected genes in 4 regions of the rat brain: the prefrontal and cingulate cortices, the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus, and the amygdala.


We employed RT-PCR array to evaluate changes during a time-course (1, 3, 7, 14, and 21 days) of treatments with desipramine (DMI) and citalopram (CIT). In addition to repeated treatment, we also conducted acute treatment (a single dose of drug followed by the same time intervals as the repeated doses).


Time-dependent and structure-specific changes in gene expression patterns allowed us to identify spatiotemporal differences in the molecular action of two ADs. Singular value decomposition analysis revealed differences in the global gene expression profiles between treatment types. The numbers of characteristic modes were generally smaller after CIT treatment than after DMI treatment. Analysis of the dynamics of gene expression revealed that the most significant changes concerned immediate early genes, whose expression was also visualized by in situ hybridization. Transcription factor binding site analysis revealed an over-representation of serum response factor binding sites in the promoters of genes that changed upon treatment with both ADs.


The observed gene expression patterns were highly dynamic, with oscillations and peaks at various time points of treatment. Our study also revealed novel potential targets of antidepressant action, i.e., Dbp and Id1 genes.

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