Background: Antidepressant treatments increase neural plasticity and adult neurogenesis, especially in the hippocampus. Here, we determined the effects of agomelatine (S-20098), a new antidepressant, on various phases of neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus of adult rat.
Methods: Animals were injected with agomelatine for different time periods. Immunostaining for bromodeoxyuridine, neuron specific nuclear protein, and glial fibrillary acid protein, as well as for the highly polysialylated form of neuronal cell adhesion molecule and doublecortin, was used to detect changes in cell proliferation, neurogenesis, and survival. Cell death was estimated by terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated biotinylated deoxyuridine triphosphate nick end labeling and cresyl violet staining.
Results: Chronic (3 weeks) but not acute (4 hours) or subchronic (1 week) administration of agomelatine increased cell proliferation and neurogenesis in the ventral dentate gyrus, a region notably implicated in response to emotion, which is consistent with the antidepressant-anxiolytic properties of the drug. Extending agomelatine treatment over several weeks, however, increases survival of newly formed neurons in the entire dentate gyrus. Finally, agomelatine treatment does not affect mature granule cells.
Conclusions: This study shows that an antidepressant can affect differentially various stages of neurogenesis in the dorsal and ventral hippocampus. Altogether, these changes lead to a pronounced augmentation in the total number of new granule cells.