Rapid effects of S-ketamine on the morphology of hippocampal astrocytes and BDNF serum levels in a sex-dependent manner

Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2020 Mar:32:94-103. doi: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2020.01.001. Epub 2020 Jan 20.


The prevalence of major depressive disorder (MDD) is higher in women than men. Importantly, a differential behavioral response by sex to the antidepressant response to ketamine in rodents has been reported. Mechanistically, male depressed-like animals showed an increased spine density after ketamine treatment via restoration of synaptic protein levels while those proteins were not altered in female rats. In addition, preclinical studies indicate that the impairment of astrocytic plasticity is one of the contributing mechanisms in the pathophysiology of MDD. Accordingly, in this study, we determined the effect of sex on the rapid morphological alteration of hippocampal astrocytes and the serum level of BDNF one hour after S-ketamine injection. A single intraperitoneal dose of S-ketamine (15 mg/kg) or saline was injected to the male and female Flinders Sensitive Line (FSL) rats, a genetic animal model of depression and their brains were perfused one hour after treatment. The size of the GFAP positive astrocytes in the hippocampal subregions was measured. The volume of different hippocampal subregions was assessed using the Cavalieri estimator. Moreover, serum levels of BDNF were measured with enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) kits. The volume of hippocampal subregions significantly increased one hour after S-ketamine in both male and female FSL animals. However, a substantial alteration in the morphology of the hippocampal astrocytes was observed only in the female rats. Additionally, significantly increased serum BDNF levels in the female depressed rats were observed one hour after S-ketamine treatment. Our results indicate that the rapid effects of S-ketamine on the morphology of the hippocampal astrocytes and the serum level of BDNF are sex-dependent.

Keywords: Antidepressant; Astrocyte; BDNF; Hippocampus; Ketamine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / drug effects
  • Astrocytes / metabolism
  • Astrocytes / pathology*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / blood*
  • Female
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Hippocampus / pathology*
  • Ketamine / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Transgenic
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Time Factors


  • Bdnf protein, rat
  • Biomarkers
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Esketamine
  • Ketamine