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Mol Psychiatry. 2016 Sep;21(9):1298-308. doi: 10.1038/mp.2015.176. Epub 2015 Dec 1.

Activation of a ventral hippocampus-medial prefrontal cortex pathway is both necessary and sufficient for an antidepressant response to ketamine.

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Department of Pharmacology, Center for Biomedical Neuroscience, University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, TX, USA.
South Texas Veterans Health Care System, Audie L. Murphy Division, San Antonio, TX, USA.


A single sub-anesthetic dose of ketamine exerts rapid and sustained antidepressant effects. Here, we examined the role of the ventral hippocampus (vHipp)-medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) pathway in ketamine's antidepressant response. Inactivation of the vHipp with lidocaine prevented the sustained, but not acute, antidepressant-like effect of ketamine as measured by the forced swim test (FST). Moreover, optogenetic as well as pharmacogenetic specific activation of the vHipp-mPFC pathway using DREADDs (designer receptors exclusively activated by designer drugs) mimicked the antidepressant-like response to ketamine; importantly, this was pathway specific, in that activation of a vHipp to nucleus accumbens circuit did not do this. Furthermore, optogenetic inactivation of the vHipp/mPFC pathway at the time of FST completely reversed ketamine's antidepressant response. In addition, we found that a transient increase in TrkB receptor phosphorylation in the vHipp contributes to ketamine's sustained antidepressant response. These data demonstrate that activity in the vHipp-mPFC pathway is both necessary and sufficient for the antidepressant-like effect of ketamine.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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