Increased 5-HT2C receptor editing predisposes to PTSD-like behaviors and alters BDNF and cytokines signaling

Transl Psychiatry. 2019 Feb 21;9(1):100. doi: 10.1038/s41398-019-0431-8.


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a trauma- and stress-related disorder with dysregulated fear responses and neurobiological impairments, notably at neurotrophic and inflammation levels. Understanding the mechanisms underlying this disease is crucial to develop PTSD models that meet behavioral and neurobiological validity criteria as well as innovative therapeutic approaches. Serotonin 2C receptors (5-HT2CR) are known for their important role in anxiety, and mice having only the fully edited VGV isoform of 5-HT2CR, which thereby overexpressed brain 5-HT2CR, are of special interest to study PTSD predisposition. Innate and conditioned fear-related behaviors were assessed in VGV and wild-type mice. mRNA expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), tissue-plasminogen activator (tPA), and pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-6, IL-1β, and calcineurin) were measured by qRT-PCR. The effect of acute and chronic paroxetine was evaluated on both behavior and gene expression. VGV mice displayed greater fear expression, extensive fear extinction deficits, and fear generalization. Paroxetine restored fear extinction in VGV mice when administered acutely and decreased innate fear and fear generalization when administered chronically. In parallel, Bdnf, tPA, and pro-inflammatory cytokines mRNA levels were dysregulated in VGV mice. Bdnf and tPA mRNA expression was decreased in the hippocampus but increased in the amygdala, and chronic paroxetine normalized Bdnf mRNA levels both in the amygdala and the hippocampus. Amygdalar calcineurin mRNA level in VGV mice was also normalized by chronic paroxetine. VGV-transgenic mice displayed behavioral and neurobiological features that could be accessory to the investigation of PTSD and its treatment. Furthermore, these data point out to the role of 5-HT2CR in neuroplasticity and neuroinflammation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Anxiety / genetics
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / genetics
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / metabolism*
  • Cytokines / metabolism*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Fear
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Male
  • Maze Learning
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Paroxetine / pharmacology*
  • RNA Editing*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Receptor, Serotonin, 5-HT2C / genetics
  • Receptor, Serotonin, 5-HT2C / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / drug therapy
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / metabolism*


  • 5-hydroxytryptamine2C receptor, mouse
  • Bdnf protein, mouse
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Cytokines
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptor, Serotonin, 5-HT2C
  • Paroxetine