Somebody Writes Something Positive About Prozac
The antidepressant fluoxetine (Prozac) restores neuronal plasticity in the rat visual cortex, according to a series of animal experiments published in last week’s issue of Science. The results could have implications for the use of selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors in the treatment of human amblyopia and other neurologic disorders.
Investigators in Italy and Finland conducted a series of monocular-deprivation studies in rats on the basis of the reported relationships between the long-term administration of antidepressants in the animals, the promotion of neurogenesis and synaptogenesis in the hippocampus, and the expression of neurotrophin brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and its primary receptor.
When compared with control animals, adult rats (postnatal day 70) treated with fluoxetine (0.2 mg/mL for 4 weeks) demonstrated a type of neuronal plasticity that is typically restricted to the early stages of rat brain development (up to postnatal day 55). Specifically fluoxetine-treated rats showed accommodating changes in cortical dominance* as a result of the deprivation of monocular sight and its subsequent restoration. The neuronal recordings seen with fluoxetine treatment mirrored those observed after the intracortical infusion of BDNF and were inhibited by the infusion of diazepam (a potentiator of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA).
The study was supported by grants from the Ministero dell’Universita e della Ricerca, Programmi di Ricerca di Rilevante Interesse Nazionale, Fondo Integrativo Speciale per la Ricerca, the Sigrid Juselius Foundation, and the Academy of Finland and Center of Excellence in Molecular Neurosciences.
GABA = gamma-aminobutyric acid.
*Assessed by using the contralateral-to-ipsilateral ratio of the visual evoked potential (VEP).