Chronic fluoxetine stimulates maturation and synaptic plasticity of adult-born hippocampal granule cells

J Neurosci. 2008 Feb 6;28(6):1374-84. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3632-07.2008.


Chronic treatments with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have been shown to increase hippocampal neurogenesis. However, it is not known whether SSRIs impact the maturation and functional integration of newborn neurons. Here we examined the effects of subchronic and chronic fluoxetine on the structural and physiological properties of young granule cells. Our results show that doublecortin-positive immature neurons displayed increased dendritic arborization after chronic fluoxetine treatment. In addition, chronic but not subchronic fluoxetine elicited a decrease in the number of newborn neurons expressing immature markers and a corresponding increase in those expressing mature markers. These results suggest that chronic fluoxetine accelerates the maturation of immature neurons. We also investigated the effects of fluoxetine on a form of neurogenesis-dependent long-term potentiation (LTP) in the dentate gyrus. This form of LTP was enhanced by chronic fluoxetine, and ablation of neurogenesis with x-irradiation completely blocked the effects of chronic fluoxetine on LTP. Finally, we demonstrated that the behavioral effect of fluoxetine in the novelty-suppressed feeding test requires chronic administration and is blocked by x-irradiation. These results show that the effects of fluoxetine on LTP and behavior both require neurogenesis and follow a similar delayed time course. The effects of chronic fluoxetine on the maturation and functional properties of young neurons may therefore be necessary for its anxiolytic/antidepressant activity and contribute to its delayed onset of therapeutic efficacy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects*
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dentate Gyrus / cytology*
  • Dentate Gyrus / drug effects*
  • Dentate Gyrus / growth & development
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Fluoxetine / administration & dosage*
  • Long-Term Potentiation / drug effects
  • Long-Term Potentiation / physiology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Neuronal Plasticity / drug effects*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Synapses / drug effects*
  • Synapses / physiology


  • Fluoxetine