iPlasticity: Induced juvenile-like plasticity in the adult brain as a mechanism of antidepressants

Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2018 Sep;72(9):633-653. doi: 10.1111/pcn.12683. Epub 2018 Jul 11.


The network hypothesis of depression proposes that mood disorders reflect problems in information processing within particular neural networks. Antidepressants (AD), including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), function by gradually improving information processing within these networks. AD have been shown to induce a state of juvenile-like plasticity comparable to that observed during developmental critical periods: Such critical-period-like plasticity allows brain networks to better adapt to extrinsic and intrinsic signals. We have coined this drug-induced state of juvenile-like plasticity 'iPlasticity.' A combination of iPlasticity induced by chronic SSRI treatment together with training, rehabilitation, or psychotherapy improves symptoms of neuropsychiatric disorders and issues underlying the developmentally or genetically malfunctioning networks. We have proposed that iPlasticity might be a critical component of AD action. We have demonstrated that iPlasticity occurs in the visual cortex, fear erasure network, extinction of aggression caused by social isolation, and spatial reversal memory in rodent models. Chronic SSRI treatment is known to promote neurogenesis and to cause dematuration of granule cells in the dentate gyrus and of interneurons, especially parvalbumin interneurons enwrapped by perineuronal nets in the prefrontal cortex, visual cortex, and amygdala. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), via its receptor tropomyosin kinase receptor B, is involved in the processes of synaptic plasticity, including neurogenesis, neuronal differentiation, weight of synapses, and gene regulation of synaptic formation. BDNF can be activated by both chronic SSRI treatment and neuronal activity. Accordingly, the BDNF/tropomyosin kinase receptor B pathway is critical for iPlasticity, but further analyses will be needed to provide mechanical insight into the processes of iPlasticity.

Keywords: brain-derived neurotrophic factor/tropomyosin kinase receptor B; dematuration; neurogenesis; neuronal plasticity; parvalbumin/perineuronal nets.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / physiology
  • Humans
  • Neurogenesis / drug effects
  • Neurogenesis / physiology
  • Neuronal Plasticity / drug effects*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Receptor, trkB / physiology
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors / pharmacology*


  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors
  • Receptor, trkB