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Transl Psychiatry. 2011 Nov 22;1:e56. doi: 10.1038/tp.2011.54.

Raphe-mediated signals control the hippocampal response to SRI antidepressants via miR-16.

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AP-HP Service de Biochimie, Fondation FondaMental, Hôpital Lariboisière, Paris, France.


Serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SRI) antidepressants such as fluoxetine (Prozac), promote hippocampal neurogenesis. They also increase the levels of the bcl-2 protein, whose overexpression in transgenic mice enhances adult hippocampal neurogenesis. However, the mechanisms underlying SRI-mediated neurogenesis are unclear. Recently, we identified the microRNA miR-16 as an important effector of SRI antidepressant action in serotonergic raphe and noradrenergic locus coeruleus (LC). We show here that miR-16 mediates adult neurogenesis in the mouse hippocampus. Fluoxetine, acting on serotonergic raphe neurons, decreases the amount of miR-16 in the hippocampus, which in turn increases the levels of the serotonin transporter (SERT), the target of SRI, and that of bcl-2 and the number of cells positive for Doublecortin, a marker of neuronal maturation. Neutralization of miR-16 in the hippocampus further exerts an antidepressant-like effect in behavioral tests. The fluoxetine-induced hippocampal response is relayed, in part, by the neurotrophic factor S100β, secreted by raphe and acting via the LC. Fluoxetine-exposed serotonergic neurons also secrete brain-derived neurotrophic factor, Wnt2 and 15-Deoxy-delta12,14-prostaglandin J2. These molecules are unable to mimic on their own the action of fluoxetine and we show that they act synergistically to regulate miR-16 at the hippocampus. Of note, these signaling molecules are increased in the cerebrospinal fluid of depressed patients upon fluoxetine treatment. Thus, our results demonstrate that miR-16 mediates the action of fluoxetine by acting as a micromanager of hippocampal neurogenesis. They further clarify the signals and the pathways involved in the hippocampal response to fluoxetine, which may help refine therapeutic strategies to alleviate depressive disorders.

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