Rapid activation of the extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) signaling pathway by electroconvulsive shock in the rat prefrontal cortex is not associated with TrkB neurotrophin receptor activation

Cell Mol Neurobiol. 2007 Aug;27(5):585-94. doi: 10.1007/s10571-007-9145-1.


1. Emerging evidence indicates that brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and its receptor TrkB play important roles in the mechanism of action of electroconvulsive shock (ECS) treatment. ECS produces a significant increase in brain BDNF synthesis together with a variety of neuroplastic changes including neurogenesis and axonal sprouting in the rodent brain, which is believed to be associated to the antidepressant effect of ECS. ERK1/2 (extracellular signal-regulated kinase-1/2) and Akt (protein kinase B), both intracellular signaling molecules being linked to neurotrophin signaling and synthesis, are important pathways triggered by TrkB autophosphorylation. 2. We have previously observed that chemical antidepressants induce a rapid activation of TrkB signaling in the rodent prefrontal cortex (PFC), which is likely a consequence of the stimulatory effect of antidepressants on BDNF synthesis. However, it is not known whether ECS triggers TrkB autophosphorylation and if any ECS-induced effect on TrkB function may be associated with the activation of the ERK1/2 and Akt pathways. 3. The present study assayed the phosphorylation levels of TrkB, ERK1/2, and Akt in the PFC of sham and ECS-treated rats. While the TrkB autophosphorylation (pTrkB) levels were decreased 30 min after both acute and chronic ECS, no change in pTrkB levels were observed at any other time points measured. In contrast, acute but not chronic ECS, transiently induced a very rapid and robust hyperphosphorylation of ERK1/2. Akt phosphorylation levels remained unchanged following acute or chronic ECS. Hence, although ECS effectively stimulates the ERK1/2 pathway in the PFC, this effect does not appear to involve upstream activation of TrkB.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Electroshock*
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System / physiology
  • Male
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 1 / metabolism*
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 3 / metabolism*
  • Oncogene Protein v-akt / metabolism
  • Phosphorylation
  • Prefrontal Cortex / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptor, trkB / metabolism*


  • Receptor, trkB
  • Oncogene Protein v-akt
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 1
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 3