Preclinical data support the view that brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and serotonergic systems regulate circuits involved in affective disorders. The present study examined neurochemical and behavioural consequences of an acute intrahippocampal injection of BDNF combined with an antidepressant by using in-vivo intracerebral microdialysis in the ventral hippocampus (vHi) in conscious mice and behavioural paradigms predictive of antidepressant and anxiolytic-like effects [the mouse forced swim test (FST), the open-field (OF) paradigm and the elevated plus maze (EPM)]. Neurochemical data revealed that BDNF (100 ng) potentiated the effects of the systemic administration of a serotonin selective reuptake inhibitor (SSRI; paroxetine 4 mg/kg i.p.) and that of a locally applied citalopram perfusion on dialysate 5-HT levels in the vHi. These neurochemical changes correlated with behavioural data since, in the FST, antidepressant-like activity of paroxetine as measured on swimming behaviour was potentiated by BDNF. These data suggest an interesting synergy between BDNF and SSRI on antidepressant-like activity. Furthermore, in both the OF and EPM paradigms BDNF induced an anxiogenic-like activity, whereas paroxetine prevented this effect. Finally, the neurochemical and behavioural effects of BDNF on the serotonergic system might occur at both pre- and post-synaptic levels since by using in-situ hybridization, we showed that TrkB-R mRNA was expressed in the hippocampus and the dorsal raphe nucleus in adult mice. Taken together the neurochemical and behavioural effects of BDNF suggest that these behavioural changes were mediated by increases in 5-HT neurotransmission in vHi. Thus a BDNF+SSRI combination may offer new alternatives to treat mood disorders.
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