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Mol Neurobiol. 2016 Jul;53(5):2778-2786. doi: 10.1007/s12035-015-9152-z. Epub 2015 Apr 1.

Revisiting the Serotonin Hypothesis: Implications for Major Depressive Disorders.

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Department of Neuroscience, Faculty of Medicine, University of Montreal, Montreal, QC, H3C3J7, Canada.


Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a heritable neuropsychiatric disease associated with severe changes at cellular and molecular levels. Its diagnosis mainly relies on the characterization of a wide range of symptoms including changes in mood and behavior. Despite the availability of antidepressant drugs, 10 to 30 % of patients fail to respond after a single or multiple treatments, and the recurrence of depression among responsive patients is very high. Evidence from the past decades suggests that the brain neurotransmitter serotonin (5-HT) is incriminated in MDD, and that a dysfunction of 5-HT receptors may play a role in the genesis of this disease. The 5-HT membrane transporter protein (SERT), which helps regulate the serotonergic transmission, is also implicated in MDD and is one of the main targets of antidepressant therapy. Although a number of behavioral tests and animal models have been developed to study depression, little is known about the neurobiological bases of MDD. Understanding the role of the serotonergic pathway will significantly help improve our knowledge of the pathophysiology of depression and may open up avenues for the development of new antidepressant drugs. The overarching goal of this review is to present recent findings from studies examining the serotonergic pathway in MDD, with a focus on SERT and the serotonin 1A (5-HT1A), serotonin 1B (5-HT1B), and serotonin 2A (5-HT2A) receptors. This paper also describes some of the main molecules involved in the internalization of 5-HT receptors and illustrates the changes in 5-HT neurotransmission in knockout mice and animal model of depression.


G-protein coupling; Gene knockout; Major depressive disorder; Serotonin; Serotonin receptor; Transporter

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