• depression;
  • antidepressant;
  • synaptogenesis;
  • stereology;
  • spine synapse


Neuronal plasticity in hippocampus is hypothesized to play an important role in both the pathophysiology of depressive disorders and the treatment. In this study, we investigated the consequences of imipramine treatment on neuroplasticity (including neurogenesis, synaptogenesis, and remodelling of synapses) in subregions of the hippocampus by quantifying number of neurons and synapses. Adult male Sprague-Dawley rats were injected with imipramine or saline (i.p.) daily for 14 days. Unbiased stereological methods were used to quantify the number of neurons and synapses. No differences in the volume and number of neurons of hippocampal subregions following imipramine treatment were found. However, the number and percentage of CA1 asymmetric spine synapses increased significantly and, conversely, the percentage of asymmetric shaft synapses significantly decreased in the imipramine treated group. Our results indicate that administration of imipramine for 14 days in normal rats could significantly increase the excitatory spine synapses, and change the relative distribution of spine and shaft synapses. We speculate that the present findings may be explained by the establishment of new synaptic connections and by remodelling or transformation of existing synapses. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.