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Keywords:

  • dorsal raphe nucleus;
  • laser capture microdissection;
  • major depressive disorder;
  • messenger RNA;
  • serotonin receptors;
  • transcription factors

Abstract

The relationship between serotonin (5-HT) and major depressive disorder (MDD) has been extensively studied but certain aspects are still ambiguous. Given the evidence that 5-HT neurotransmission is reduced in depressed subjects, it is possible that one or more of the 5-HT regulators may be altered in the dorsal raphe nucleus (DR) of depressed subjects. Candidates that regulate 5-HT synthesis and neuronal activity of 5-HT neurons include intrinsic regulators such as tryptophan hydroxylase 2, 5-HT autoreceptors, 5-HT transporter and transcription factors, as well as afferent regulators such as estrogen and brain-derived neurotrophic factor. The present study was designed to quantify mRNA concentrations of the above 5-HT regulators in an isolated population of 5-HT-containing DR neurons of MDD subjects and gender-matched psychiatrically normal control subjects. We found that mRNA concentrations of the 5-HT1D receptor and the transcription factors, NUDR and REST, were significantly increased in DR-captured neurons of female MDD subjects compared to female control subjects. No significant differences were found for the transcripts in male MDD subjects compared to male controls. This study reveals sex-specific alterations in gene expression of the pre-synaptic 5-HT1D autoreceptors and 5-HT-related transcription factors, NUDR and REST, in DR neurons of women with MDD.