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Deep brain stimulation (DBS) has emerged as a neuromodulation therapy for treatment-resistant depression, but its actual efficacy and mechanisms of action are still unclear. Changes in neurochemical transmission are important mechanisms of antidepressant therapies. Here, we review the preclinical DBS literature reporting behavioural and neurochemical data associated with its antidepressant-like effects. The most commonly studied target in preclinical models was the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC). In rodents, DBS delivered to this target induced serotonin (5-HT) release and increased 5-HT1B receptor expression. The antidepressant-like effects of vmPFC DBS seemed to be independent of the serotonin transporter and potentially mediated by the direct modulation of prefrontal projections to the raphe. Adenosinergic and glutamatergic transmission might have also play a role. Medial forebrain bundle (MFB) DBS increased dopamine levels and reduced D2 receptor expression, whereas nucleus accumbens (NAcc), and lateral habenula (LHb) stimulation increased catecholamine levels in different brain regions. In rodents, subthalamic nucleus (STN) DBS induced robust depression-like responses associated with a reduction in serotonergic transmission, as revealed by a decrease in serotonin release. Some of these effects seemed to be mediated by 5HT1A receptors. In conclusion, the antidepressant-like effects of DBS in preclinical models have been well documented in multiple targets. Though variable mechanisms have been proposed, DBS-induced acute and long-term changes in neurochemical substrates seem to play an important role in the antidepressant-like effects of this therapy. Copyright © 2022 Elsevier B.V. and ECNP. All rights reserved.


Ana Carolina P Campos, Christopher Pople, Esther Silk, Shanan Surendrakumar, Thallita K Rabelo, Ying Meng, Flavia Venetucci Gouveia, Nir Lipsman, Peter Giacobbe, Clement Hamani. Neurochemical mechanisms of deep brain stimulation for depression in animal models. European neuropsychopharmacology : the journal of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology. 2023 Mar;68:11-26

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PMID: 36640729

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