Dentate gyrus activin signaling mediates the antidepressant response

Mark M. Gergues, Christine N. Yohn, Anusha Bharadia, Marjorie R. Levinstein, Benjamin Adam Samuels

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Antidepressants that target monoaminergic systems, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), are widely used to treat neuropsychiatric disorders including major depressive disorder, several anxiety disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. However, these treatments are not ideal because only a subset of patients achieve remission. The reasons why some individuals remit to antidepressant treatments while others do not are unknown. Here, we developed a paradigm to assess antidepressant treatment resistance in mice. Exposure of male C57BL/6J mice to either chronic corticosterone administration or chronic social defeat stress induces maladaptive affective behaviors. Subsequent chronic treatment with the SSRI fluoxetine reverses these maladaptive affective behavioral changes in some, but not all, of the mice, permitting stratification into persistent responders and non-responders to fluoxetine. We found several differences in expression of Activin signaling-related genes between responders and non-responders in the dentate gyrus (DG), a region that is critical for the beneficial behavioral effects of fluoxetine. Enhancement of Activin signaling in the DG converted behavioral non-responders into responders to fluoxetine treatment more effectively than commonly used second-line antidepressant treatments, while inhibition of Activin signaling in the DG converted responders into non-responders. Taken together, these results demonstrate that the behavioral response to fluoxetine can be bidirectionally modified via targeted manipulations of the DG and suggest that molecular- and neural circuit-based modulations of DG may provide a new therapeutic avenue for more effective antidepressant treatments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7
JournalTranslational psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry


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