Antidepressant drugs are usually administered for long time for the treatment of major depressive disorder. However, they are also prescribed in several additional psychiatric conditions as well as during long term maintenance treatments. Antidepressants induce adaptive changes in several forebrain structures which include modifications at glutamatergic synapses. We recently found that repetitive administration of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor fluoxetine to naive adult male rats induced an increase of mature, mushroom-type dendritic spines in several forebrain regions. This was associated with an increase of GluA2-containing a-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazole-4-propionate receptors (AMPA-Rs) in telencephalic postsynaptic densities. To unravel the functional significance of such a synaptic re-arrangement, we focused on glutamate neurotransmission in the hippocampus. We evaluated the effect of four weeks of treatment with 0.7 mg/kg of fluoxetine on long-term potentiation (LTP) and long-term depression (LTD) in the Schaffer collateral-CA1 synapses and the perforant path-CA1 synapses. Recordings in hippocampal slices revealed profound deficits in LTP and LTD at Schaffer collateral-CA1 synapses associated to increased spine density and enhanced presence of mushroom-type spines, as revealed by Golgi staining. However, the same treatment had neither an effect on spine morphology, nor on LTP and LTD at perforant path-CA1 synapses. Cobalt staining experiments revealed decreased AMPA-R Ca2+ permeability in the stratum radiatum together with increased GluA2-containing, Ca2+-impermeable AMPA-Rs. Therefore, 4 weeks of fluoxetine treatment promoted structural and functional adaptations in CA1 neurons in a pathway-specific manner that were selectively associated with impairment of activity-dependent plasticity at Schaffer collateral-CA1 synapses.
- Dendritic spines
- Glutamate receptors