Serotonin-induced increases in adult cell proliferation and neurogenesis are mediated through different and common 5-HT receptor subtypes in the dentate gyrus and the subventricular zone

Neuropsychopharmacology. 2004 Mar;29(3):450-60. doi: 10.1038/sj.npp.1300320.


Increase in serotonin (5-HT) transmission has profound antidepressant effects and has been associated with an increase in adult neurogenesis. The present study was aimed at screening the 5-HT receptor subtypes involved in the regulation of cell proliferation in the subgranular layer (SGL) of the dentate gyrus (DG) and the subventricular zone (SVZ) and to determine the long-term changes in adult neurogenesis. The 5-HT1A, 5-HT1B, and 5-HT2 receptor subtypes were chosen for their implication in depression and their location in/or next to these regions. Using systemic administration of various agonists and antagonists, we show that the activation of 5-HT1A heteroreceptors produces similar increases in the number of bromodeoxyuridine-labeled cells in the SGL and the SVZ (about 50% over control), whereas 5-HT2A and 5-HT2C receptor subtypes are selectively involved in the regulation of cell proliferation in each of these regions. The activation of 5-HT2C receptors, largely expressed by the choroid plexus, produces a 56% increase in the SVZ, while blockade of 5-HT2A receptors produces a 63% decrease in the number of proliferating cells in the SGL. In addition to the influence of 5-HT1B autoreceptors on 5-HT terminals in the hippocampus and ventricles, 5-HT1B heteroreceptors also regulate cell proliferation in the SGL. These data indicate that multiple receptor subtypes mediate the potent, partly selective of each neurogenic zone, stimulatory action of 5-HT on adult brain cell proliferation. Furthermore, both acute and chronic administration of selective 5-HT1A and 5-HT2C receptor agonists produce consistent increases in the number of newly formed neurons in the DG and/or olfactory bulb, underscoring the beneficial effects of 5-HT on adult neurogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cell Division / physiology
  • Dentate Gyrus / cytology*
  • Dentate Gyrus / drug effects
  • Dentate Gyrus / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Receptors, Serotonin / metabolism*
  • Serotonin / metabolism*
  • Serotonin Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Serotonin Receptor Agonists / pharmacology


  • Receptors, Serotonin
  • Serotonin Antagonists
  • Serotonin Receptor Agonists
  • Serotonin