Background: Despite widely reported clinical and preclinical studies of rapid antidepressant actions of glutamate N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonists, there has been very little work examining the effects of these drugs in stress models of depression that require chronic administration of antidepressants or the molecular mechanisms that could account for the rapid responses.
Methods: We used a rat 21-day chronic unpredictable stress (CUS) model to test the rapid actions of NMDA receptor antagonists on depressant-like behavior, neurochemistry, and spine density and synaptic function of prefrontal cortex neurons.
Results: The results demonstrate that acute treatment with the noncompetitive NMDA channel blocker ketamine or the selective NMDA receptor 2B antagonist Ro 25-6981 rapidly ameliorates CUS-induced anhedonic and anxiogenic behaviors. We also found that CUS exposure decreases the expression levels of synaptic proteins and spine number and the frequency/amplitude of synaptic currents (excitatory postsynaptic currents) in layer V pyramidal neurons in the prefrontal cortex and that these deficits are rapidly reversed by ketamine. Blockade of the mammalian target of rapamycin protein synthesis cascade abolishes both the behavioral and biochemical effects of ketamine.
Conclusions: The results indicate that the structural and functional deficits resulting from long-term stress exposure, which could contribute to the pathophysiology of depression, are rapidly reversed by NMDA receptor antagonists in a mammalian target of rapamycin dependent manner.
Copyright © 2011 Society of Biological Psychiatry. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.