Electroconvulsive therapy induces neurogenesis in frontal rat brain areas

PLoS One. 2013 Jul 26;8(7):e69869. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0069869. Print 2013.


Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is an effective therapy for several psychiatric disorders, including severe major depression, mania and certain forms of schizophrenia. It had been proposed that ECT acts by modulating local plasticity via the stimulation of neurogenesis. In fact, among antidepressant therapies, ECT is the most robust enhancer of neurogenesis in the hippocampus of rodents and non-human primates. The existence of ECT-triggered neurogenesis in other brain areas, particularly in those adjacent to the other main locus of neurogenesis, the subventricular zone (SVZ), had so far remained unknown. Here we show that ECT also strongly enhances neurogenesis in frontal brain areas, especially in the rostro-medial striatum, generating specific, small-size calretinin-positive interneurons. We provide here the first evidence that ECT stimulates neurogenesis in areas outside the hippocampus. Our data may open research possibilities that focus on the plastic changes induced by ECT in frontal limbic circuitry.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Bromodeoxyuridine / metabolism
  • Cell Count
  • Doublecortin Domain Proteins
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy*
  • Frontal Lobe / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Interneurons / metabolism
  • Interneurons / pathology
  • Male
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / metabolism
  • Neostriatum / metabolism
  • Neostriatum / pathology
  • Neostriatum / physiopathology
  • Neurogenesis*
  • Neuropeptides / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Doublecortin Domain Proteins
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • Neuropeptides
  • Bromodeoxyuridine

Grant support

This work was supported by a grant from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (GA427/11-1) and the Collaborative Research Center (Sonderforschungsbereich) 636 of the University of Heidelberg to D.I. and P.G. J.M.L.-O. was supported by a DAAD-CONACYT (German Academic Exchange Service - Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologia) fellowship. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.