Abstract: Depression is a chronic and debilitating illness that interferes severely with many human behaviors, and is the leading cause of disability in the world. There is data suggesting that deficits in serotonin neurotransmission can contribute to the development of depression. Indeed, >90% of prescribed antidepressant drugs act by increasing serotonergic transmission at the synapse. However, this increase is offset by a negative feedback operating at the level of the cell body of the serotonin neurons in the raphe nuclei. In the present work, we demonstrate: first, the intracortical infusion of ketamine induced an antidepressant-like effect in the forced swim test, comparable to that produced by systemic ketamine; second, systemic and intracortical ketamine increased serotonin and noradrenaline efflux in the prefrontal cortex, but not in the dorsal raphe nucleus; third, systemic and intracortical administration of ketamine increased the efflux of glutamate in the prefrontal cortex and dorsal raphe nucleus; fourth, systemic ketamine did not alter the functionality of 5-HT1A receptors in the dorsal raphe nucleus. Taken together, these findings suggest that the antidepressant-like effects of ketamine are caused by the stimulation of the prefrontal projection to the dorsal raphe nucleus and locus coeruleus caused by an elevated glutamate in the medial prefrontal cortex, which would stimulate release of serotonin and noradrenaline in the same area. The impact of both monoamines in the antidepressant response to ketamine seems to have different time frames.
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