Background: Volumetric changes and glial pathology have been reported in the amygdala in patients with major depressive disorder. Here we report an analysis of glial cell proliferation in response to electroconvulsive seizures (ECS), clinically used for the treatment of severe depression.
Methods: Male Wistar rats were subjected to five ECS-treatments and then injected with bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) to detect cell proliferation in the amygdala. The animals were transcardially perfused either 12 hours or 3 weeks after the last BrdU injection. Tissue sections were double-stained for BrdU and the cell-type markers NG2, OX-42, RIP, S-100beta, Doublecortin, or NeuN.
Results: Electroconvulsive seizures dramatically increased the proliferation of amygdala cells expressing the oligodendrocyte progenitor marker NG2. Bromodeoxyuridine-labeled NG2-expressing cells were still present after 3 weeks of survival, and a small proportion of the proliferating cells had differentiated into mature oligodendrocytes.
Conclusions: Major depression has been associated with a reduction of glial cells. Our results show that ECS, an antidepressant treatment, significantly increases the number of NG2+ glial cells and mature oligodendrocytes in the adult rat amygdala.