Depression is an overwhelming health concern, and many patients fail to optimally respond to available standard therapies. Neuroplasticity and blood-brain barrier (BBB) integrity are the cornerstones of a well-functioning central nervous system, but they are vulnerable to an overly active NLRP3 inflammasome pathway that can also indirectly trigger the release of ET-1 and contribute to the ET system disturbance, which further damages stress resilience mechanisms. Here, the promising yet unexplored antidepressant potential of dapagliflozin (Dapa), a sodium-glucose co-transporter-2 inhibitor, was investigated by assessing its role in the modulation of the NLRP3 inflammasome pathway and ETBR signal transduction, and their impact on neuroplasticity and BBB integrity in an animal model of depression. Dapa (1 mg/kg/day; p.o.) with and without BQ-788 (1 mg/kg/day; i.p.), a specific ETBR blocker, were administered to adolescent male Wistar rats exposed to a 5-week chronic unpredictable stress protocol. The depressive animals demonstrated marked activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome pathway (NF-κB/NLRP3/caspase-1/IL/TNF-α), which was associated with both peripheral and central inflammatory responses. The ET system was disrupted, with noticeable reduction in miR-125a-5p and ETBR gene expression. Cortical ZO-1 expression was downregulated under the influence of NLRP3/TNF-α/miR-501-3p signaling, along with a prominent reduction in hippocampal BDNF and synapsin-1. With ETBR up-regulation being a cornerstone outcome, Dapa administration efficiently created an overall state of resilience, improved histopathological and behavioral variables, and preserved BBB function. These observations were further verified by the results obtained with BQ-788 co-administration. Thus, Dapa may exert its antidepressant action by reinforcing BBB integrity and promoting neuroplasticity through manipulation of the NLRP3/ET-1/ETBR/BDNF/ZO-1 axis, with a significant role for ETBR signaling. Graphical illustration for the proposed mechanisms of the anti-depressant potential of Dapa. Dapa suppressed NLRP3 inflammasome activation and assembly with subsequent inhibition of pro-inflammatory ILs. This results in attenuation of neuro-inflammation, BBB disruption, glial cell activation, TNF-α and ET-1 release, and the enhanced production of neurotrophins. The role of ETBR signaling was emphasized; Dapa possibly augmented ETBR expression, which is thought to boost neurotrophins production. The ETBR blocker, BQ-788, suppressed most of the positive outcomes of Dapa. Finally, miR-125a-5p and miR-501-3p that played major roles in these pathological pathways were modulated by Dapa. It is not yet clear whether Dapa has a direct or rather indirect effect on their expression. BBB, blood-brain barrier; Dapa, dapagliflozin; ET-1, endothelin-1; ETBR, endothelin B receptor; IL, interleukin; NF-κB, nuclear factor kappa B; NLRP3, nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain, leucine-rich repeat and pyrin domain-containing protein 3; TNF-α, tumor necrosis factor-α. Created with BioRender.com.
Keywords: Dapagliflozin; Depression; ETBR; NLRP3; Neuro-inflammation; SGLT2; miR-125a-5p; miR-501-3p.
© 2021. The American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics, Inc.