Novel insights into the role of the GABAB receptor in depression and anxiety

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Felice, Daniela
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University College Cork
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The GABAB receptor is a functional heterodimer comprising the GABAB1 and GABAB2 subunits, with the GABAB1 subunit displaying two major isoforms, GABAB(1a) and GABAB(1b). Preclinical findings have strongly implicated the GABAB receptor in stress-related psychiatric disorders, however, the precise contribution of the GABAB receptor in depression and anxiety disorders remains unknown. Emerging data suggest that the interaction between adverse environmental conditions, such as early life stress, and a specific genetic composition can increase the risk to develop psychiatric disorders in adulthood. This thesis investigated the role of the GABAB receptor alone or in combination with early-life stress (maternal separation), in modulating antidepressant like and anxiety-related behaviours. Pharmacological blockade of the GABAB receptor with CGP52432 had antidepressant-like behavioural effects. Moreover, mice lacking the GABAB(1b) receptor subunit isoform exhibited antidepressant-like behaviours in adulthood but anxiety-like behaviour in early-life. In response to maternal separation, GABAB(1a)-/- mice exhibited early-life stress-induced anhedonia, a core symptom of depression, while GABAB(1b)-/- mice exhibited a more resilient phenotype. Moreover, when compared with wildtype or GABAB(1a)-/- mice, GABAB(1b)-/- mice that underwent maternal separation exhibited enhanced stressinduced neuronal activation in the hippocampus and in the nucleus accumbens (NAcc), a critical area for anhedonia thus suggesting that enhanced stress-induced neuronal activation in the hippocampus and NAcc in GABAB(1b)-/- mice may be important for their antidepressant-like phenotype and their resilience to stress-induced anhedonia. Pharmacological blockade of GABAB receptor and GABAB(1b) receptor subunit isoform loss of function increased adult hippocampal cell proliferation, thus suggesting that increased hippocampal neurogenesis could be a potential mechanism for the antidepressant-like effects of GABAB receptor antagonists and GABAB(1b) receptor subunit isoform disruption. Finally, this thesis investigated whether the expression of several genes involved in hippocampal neurogenesis or the antidepressant response were altered in the mouse hippocampus following chronic treatment with a GABAB receptor antagonist.
GABAB receptor , Depression , Anxiety , Anti-depressants , Early-life stress
Felice, D. 2013. Novel insights into the role of the GABAB receptor in depression and anxiety. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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