Increased neuroplasticity and hippocampal microglia activation in a mice model of rapid antidepressant treatment

Behav Brain Res. 2016 Sep 15:311:392-402. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2016.05.063. Epub 2016 Jun 2.


The search for biomarkers of antidepressant effects focused on pathways regulating synaptic plasticity, and on activated inflammatory markers. Repeated Sleep Deprivation (SD) provides a model treatment to reverse-translate antidepressant effects from in vivo clinical psychiatry to model organisms. We studied the effects of repeated SD alone (ASD) or combined with exercise on a slow spinning wheel (SSW), in 116 C57BL/6J male mice divided in three groups (ASD, SSW, untreated). Forced Swimming Test (FST) was used to detect antidepressant-like effects. Unbiased evaluation of the transcriptional responses were obtained in the hippocampus by Illumina Bead Chip Array system, then confirmed with real time PCR. Spine densities in granular neurons of the dentate gyrus (DG) were assayed by standard Golgi staining. Activation of Microglial/Macrophages cells was evaluated by immunufluorescence analysis for Iba1. Rates of cell proliferation was estimated pulsing mice with the S-phase tracer 5-Iodo-2'-deoxyuridine (IdU). All SD procedures caused a decreasing of floating time at FST, and increased expression of the immediate early gene Arc/Arg3.1. In addition, SSW also increased expression of the Microglia/Macrophages genes Iba-1 and chemokine receptors Cx3cR1 and CxcR4, of the canonical Wnt signaling gene Wnt7a, and of dendritic spines in CA4 neurons of the DG. SSW up-regulated both the number of Iba1+ cells and rates of cell proliferation in the subgranular region of the DG. The antidepressant-like effects of SD dissociated both, from hippocampal neuroplasticity in the DG (not occurring after ASD), and from microglial activation (not preventing behavioral response when occurring). The increase in dendritic spine density in the DG after SD and exercise was associated with an up-regulation of Wnt 7a, and with activation of the innate immune system of the brain. Increased Arc/Arg3.1 suggests however increased neuroplasticity, which could be common to all fast-acting antidepressants, and possibly occurring in other brain areas.

Keywords: Depression; Exercise; Sleep deprivation; Wnt7.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Proliferation / physiology
  • Dendritic Spines / pathology
  • Dendritic Spines / physiology
  • Depressive Disorder / pathology
  • Depressive Disorder / physiopathology
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Hippocampus / pathology
  • Hippocampus / physiopathology*
  • Macrophages / pathology
  • Macrophages / physiology
  • Male
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Microglia / pathology
  • Microglia / physiology*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Running / physiology
  • Running / psychology
  • Sleep Deprivation / physiopathology*
  • Sleep Deprivation / psychology
  • Transcriptome
  • Wnt Proteins / metabolism


  • Wnt Proteins
  • Wnt7a protein, mouse