Hippocampal neurogenesis: regulation by stress and antidepressants

Biol Psychiatry. 2006 Jun 15;59(12):1136-43. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2006.03.082.


Accumulating evidence implicates hippocampal neurogenesis in the pathophysiology of depression. Psychosocial stress reduces neurogenesis in rodents, whereas chronic treatment with antidepressants increases neurogenesis and blocks the effects of stress. The effects of stress and antidepressant treatment on hippocampal neurogenesis parallel behavioral changes in animal models. Moreover, ablating hippocampal neurogenesis renders antidepressants inactive in behavioral paradigms used to model antidepressant response and anxiety-like behavior in mice. In humans, monoamine-modulating antidepressants demonstrate clinical efficacy in treating depression and anxiety, which are often precipitated by psychosocial stress. This review examines the mounting evidence that stress and antidepressant treatment regulate neurogenesis in animals. Special attention is paid to the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which this regulation takes place. An analysis of current animal models used to study response to stress and antidepressants indicates the importance of modeling chronic treatment, which reflects both changes in neurogenesis and clinical response. Exploring responses of hippocampal neurogenesis to experimental challenges in appropriate animal models should delineate the role of adult-born neurons in hippocampal physiology. Focusing on neurogenic response to experimental paradigms of stress and antidepressant treatment is particularly interesting for understanding the pathophysiology of major depressive disorder.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Antidepressive Agents / pharmacology*
  • Depressive Disorder / drug therapy*
  • Depressive Disorder / physiopathology
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Hippocampus / drug effects*
  • Hippocampus / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Neurons / drug effects*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Rats
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology


  • Antidepressive Agents