The α-7 Nicotinic Receptor Positive Allosteric Modulator Alleviates Lipopolysaccharide Induced Depressive-like Behavior by Regulating Microglial Function, Trophic Factor, and Chloride Transporters in Mice

Brain Sci. 2024 Mar 19;14(3):290. doi: 10.3390/brainsci14030290.


Neuroinflammation contributes to the pathophysiology of major depressive disorder (MDD) by inducing neuronal excitability via dysregulation of microglial brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), Na-K-Cl cotransporter-1 (NKCC1), and K-Cl cotransporter-2 (KCC2) due to activation of BDNF-tropomyosin receptor kinase B (TrkB) signaling. Allosteric modulation of α7 nAChRs has not been investigated on BDNF, KCC2, and NKCC1 during LPS-induced depressive-like behavior. Therefore, we examined the effects of PNU120596, an α7 nAChR positive allosteric modulator, on the expression of BDNF, KCC2, and NKCC1 in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex using Western blot analysis, immunofluorescence assay, and real-time polymerase chain reaction. The effects of ANA12, a TrkB receptor antagonist, on LPS-induced cognitive deficit and depressive-like behaviors were determined using the Y-maze, tail suspension test (TST), and forced swim test (FST). Pharmacological interactions between PNU120596 and ANA12 were also examined. Experiments were conducted in male C57BL/6J mice. LPS administration (1 mg/kg) resulted in increased expression of BDNF and the NKCC1/KCC2 ratio and decreased expression of KCC2 in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. PNU120596 pretreatment (4 mg/kg) attenuated the LPS-induced increase in the expression of BDNF and NKCC1/KCC2 ratio and the reduction in KCC2 expression in these brain regions. In addition, ANA12 (0.25 or 0.50 mg/kg) reduced the LPS-induced cognitive deficit and depressive-like behaviors measured by a reduced spontaneous alternation in the Y-maze and increased immobility duration in TST and FST. Coadministration of PNU120596 (1 mg/kg) and ANA12 (0.25 mg/kg) prevented the LPS-induced cognitive deficit and depressive-like behaviors. Overall, PNU120596 prevented the LPS-induced depressive-like behavior by likely decreasing neuronal excitability via targeting microglial α7 nAChR in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex.

Keywords: major depressive disorder; mice; microglia; neuroinflammation; nicotinic receptor; α7 nicotinic receptor positive allosteric modulator.