Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are designed to improve mood by raising extracellular serotonin levels through the blockade of the serotonin transporter. However, they exhibit a slow onset of action, suggesting the involvement of adaptive regulatory mechanisms. We hypothesized that the microRNA-34 family facilitates the therapeutic activity of SSRIs. We show that genetic deletion of these microRNAs in mice impairs the response to chronic, but not acute, fluoxetine treatment, with a specific effect on behavioral constructs that are related to depression, rather than anxiety. Moreover, using a pharmacological strategy, we found that an increased expression of the serotonin 2C (5-HT2C) receptor in the dorsal raphe region of the brain contributes to this phenotype. The onset of the therapeutic efficacy of SSRIs is paralleled by the desensitization of the 5-HT2C receptor in the dorsal raphe, and 5-HT2C is a putative target of microRNA-34. In this study, acute and chronic fluoxetine treatment differentially alters the expression of 5-HT2C and microRNA-34a in the dorsal raphe. Moreover, by in vitro luciferase assay, we demonstrated the repressive regulatory activity of microRNA-34a against 5-HT2C mRNA. Specific blockade of this interaction through local infusion of a target site blocker was sufficient to prevent the behavioral effects of chronic fluoxetine. Our results demonstrate a new miR-34a-mediated regulatory mechanism of 5-HT2C expression in the dorsal raphe and implicate it in eliciting the behavioral responses to chronic fluoxetine treatment.
- Dorsal Raphe
- Target Site Blocker
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience