A novel 5HT3 receptor-IGF1 mechanism distinct from SSRI-induced antidepressant effects

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Depression is a common mental disorder affecting around 350 million people worldwide. Although selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most widely used antidepressants, a significant proportion of depressed patients do not achieve remission with SSRIs. In this study, we show that a serotonin type 3 receptor (5HT3R) agonist induces antidepressant effects as well as hippocampal neurogenesis independent of fluoxetine (a commonly used SSRI). Notably, our histological analysis reveals that 5HT3R and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1) are expressed in the same neurons in the subgranular zone of the hippocampal dentate gyrus. Furthermore, our in vivo microdialysis analysis shows that 5HT3R regulates hippocampal extracellular IGF1 levels, and we also show that 5HT3R-dependent hippocampal neurogenesis is mediated by increased IGF1 levels. Altogether, our findings suggest a novel 5HT3R-IGF1 mechanism that is distinct from fluoxetine-induced responses and that provides a new therapeutic target for depression, especially bringing significant benefits for SSRI-resistant depressed patients.

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