The vagus nerve role in antidepressants action: Efferent vagal pathways participate in peripheral anti-inflammatory effect of fluoxetine

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The mechanisms responsible for the anti-inflammatory effects of antidepressants are only partially understood. Published data indicate that the vagal anti-inflammatory pathway could be involved in mediating this effect. Therefore, we investigated the influence of subdiaphragmatic vagotomy on the anti-inflammatory effect of fluoxetine in rats injected with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) to induce an inflammatory response. The extent of this response was determined by measurement of TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL-6 plasma levels, along with gene expression of TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL-6 in the spleen and selected structures of the brain. To evaluate possible central mechanisms, c-fos mRNA levels were determined in the nucleus of the solitary tract, dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus, paraventricular hypothalamic nucleus, basolateral amygdala, central nucleus of the amygdala, hippocampus, and frontal cortex. We found that pretreatment with fluoxetine substantially prevented LPS-induced increases of pro-inflammatory cytokines in plasma and gene expression in the spleen and brain in animals with an intact vagus nerve. However, in vagotomized animals, fluoxetine pretreatment only partially attenuated the LPS-induced increase in these markers of peripheral inflammation. Our data has shown that fluoxetine exerts potent anti-inflammatory effects in both the periphery and brain. Moreover, we found that the peripheral anti-inflammatory action of fluoxetine is mediated, at least partially, by activation of a vagal anti-inflammatory pathway. The role of the vagus nerve in mediating the anti-inflammatory effects of antidepressants has been marginally explored and our findings highlight its potential contribution to this mechanism of action of antidepressants.HIGHLIGHTSFluoxetine exerts potent anti-inflammatory effects in the periphery and brain.Vagotomy significantly attenuated fluoxetine's anti-inflammatory effect.Vagal pathways may participate in the anti-inflammatory effect of antidepressants.

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