Spike firing attenuation of serotonin neurons in learned helplessness rats is reversed by ketamine

Kouichi Hashimoto, Yosuke Yamawaki, Kenji Yamaoka, Takayuki Yoshida, Kana Okada, Wanqin Tan, Miwako Yamasaki, Yoshiko Matsumoto-Makidono, Reika Kubo, Hisako Nakayama, Tsutomu Kataoka, Takashi Kanematsu, W. Masahiko, Yasumasa Okamoto, Shigeru Morinobu, Hidenori Aizawa, Shigeto Yamawaki

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Animals suffering from uncontrollable stress sometimes show low effort to escape stress (learned helplessness). Changes in serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine) signalling are thought to underlie this behaviour. Although the release of 5-hydroxytryptamine is triggered by the action potential firing of dorsal raphe nuclei 5-hydroxytryptamine neurons, the electrophysiological changes induced by uncontrollable stress are largely unclear. Herein, we examined electrophysiological differences among 5-hydroxytryptamine neurons in naive rats, learned helplessness rats and rats resistant to inescapable stress (non-learned helplessness). Five-week-old male Sprague Dawley rats were exposed to inescapable foot shocks. After an avoidance test session, rats were classified as learned helplessness or non-learned helplessness. Activity-dependent 5-hydroxytryptamine release induced by the administration of high-potassium solution was slower in free-moving learned helplessness rats. Subthreshold electrophysiological properties of 5-hydroxytryptamine neurons were identical among the three rat groups, but the depolarization-induced spike firing was significantly attenuated in learned helplessness rats. To clarify the underlying mechanisms, potassium (K+) channels regulating the spike firing were initially examined using naive rats. K+ channels sensitive to 500 lM tetraethylammonium caused rapid repolarization of the action potential and the small conductance calcium- activated K+ channels produced afterhyperpolarization. Additionally, dendrotoxin-I, a blocker of Kv1.1 (encoded by Kcna1), Kv1.2 (encoded by Kcna2) and Kv1.6 (encoded by Kcna6) voltage-dependent K+ channels, weakly enhanced the spike firing frequency during depolarizing current injections without changes in individual spike waveforms in naive rats. We found that dendrotoxin-I significantly enhanced the spike firing of 5-hydroxytryptamine neurons in learned helplessness rats. Consequently, the difference in spike firing among the three rat groups was abolished in the presence of dendrotoxin-I. These results suggest that the upregulation of dendrotoxin-Isensitive Kv1 channels underlies the firing attenuation of 5-hydroxytryptamine neurons in learned helplessness rats. We also found that the antidepressant ketamine facilitated the spike firing of 5-hydroxytryptamine neurons and abolished the firing difference between learned helplessness and non-learned helplessness by suppressing dendrotoxin-I-sensitive Kv1 channels. The dendrotoxin-I-sensitive Kv1 channel may be a potential target for developing drugs to control activity of 5-hydroxytryptamine neurons.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberfcab285
JournalBrain Communications
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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