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Papers of the Week

2022 Dec 21


A role of GABA receptor α1 subunit in the hippocampus for rapid-acting antidepressant-like effects of ketamine.


Tang X-H, Diao Y-G, Ren Z-Y, Zang Y-Y, Zhang G-F, Wang X-M, Duan G-F, Shen J-C, Hashimoto K, Zhou Z-Q, Yang J-J
Neuropharmacology. 2022 Dec 21:109383.
PMID: 36565851.


Ketamine can produce rapid-acting antidepressant effects in treatment-resistant patients with depression. Although alterations in glutamatergic and GABAergic neurotransmission in the brain play a role in depression, the precise molecular mechanisms in these neurotransmission underlying ketamine's antidepressant actions remain largely unknown. Mice exposed to FSS (forced swimming stress) showed depression-like behavior and decreased levels of GABA (γ-aminobutyric acid), but not glutamate, in the hippocampus. Ketamine increased GABA levels and decreased glutamate levels in the hippocampus of mice exposed to FSS. There was a correlation between GABA levels and depression-like behavior. Furthermore, ketamine increased the levels of enzymes and transporters on the GABAergic neurons (SAT1, GAD67, GAD65, VGAT and GAT1) and astrocytes (EAAT2 and GAT3), without affecting the levels of enzymes and transporters (SAT2, VGluT1 and GABAR γ2) on glutamatergic neurons. Moreover, ketamine caused a decreased expression of GABAR ⍺1 subunit, which was specifically expressed on GABAergic neurons and astrocytes, an increased GABA synthesis and metabolism in GABAergic neurons, a plasticity change in astrocytes, and an increase in ATP (adenosine triphosphate) contents. Finally, GABAR antagonist bicuculline or ATP exerted a rapid antidepressant-like effect whereas pretreatment with GABAR agonist muscimol blocked the antidepressant-like effects of ketamine. In addition, pharmacological activation and inhibition of GABAR modulated the synthesis and metabolism of GABA, and the plasticity of astrocytes in the hippocampus. The present data suggest that ketamine could increase GABA synthesis and astrocyte plasticity through downregulation of GABAR α1, increases in GABA, and conversion of GABA into ATP, resulting in a rapid-acting antidepressant-like action.