• Signal transduction;
  • Protein kinase;
  • Antidepressant;
  • Depression;
  • Neurotransmission;
  • Transmitter release

Abstract: Depression has been treated pharmacologically for over three decades, but the views regarding the mechanism of action of antidepressant drugs have registered recently a major change. It was increasingly appreciated that adaptive changes in postreceptor signaling pathways, rather than primary action of drugs on monoamine transporters, metabolic enzymes, and receptors, are connected to therapeutic effect. For some of the various signaling pathways affected by antidepressant treatment, it was shown that protein phosphorylation, which represents an obligate step for most pathways, is markedly affected by long-term treatment. Changes were reported to be induced in the function of protein kinase C, cyclic AMP-dependent protein kinase, and calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase. For two of these kinases (cyclic AMP- and calcium/calmodulin-dependent), the changes have been studied in isolated neuronal compartments (microtubules and presynaptic terminals). Antidepressant treatment activates the two kinases and increases the endogenous phosphorylation of selected substrates (microtubule-associated protein 2 and synaptotagmin). These modifications may be partly responsible for the changes induced by antidepressants in neurotransmission. The changes in protein phosphorylation induced by long-term antidepressant treatment may contribute to explain the therapeutic action of antidepressants and suggest new strategies of pharmacological intervention.