Estibaliz Mariela Ampuero, Mauricio Cerda, Steffen Hartel, Francisco Javier Rubio, Solange Massa, Paula Cubillos, Lorena Abarzua, Rodrigo Sandoval, Ursula Wyneken.

Fluoxetine is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) used to treat mood and anxiety disorders. Chronic treatment with this antidepressant drug is thought to favor functional recovery by promoting structural and molecular changes in several forebrain areas. At the synaptic level, chronic fluoxetine induces an increased size and density of dendritic spines and an increased ratio of GluN2A over GluN2B N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor subunits. The “maturation”-promoting molecular changes observed after chronic fluoxetine should also induce structural remodeling of the neuronal dendritic arbor and changes in the synaptic responses. We treated adult rats with fluoxetine (0.7 mg/kg i.p. for 28 days) and performed a morphometric analysis using Golgi stain in limbic and nonlimbic cortical areas. Then, we focused especially on the auditory cortex, where we evaluated the dendritic morphology of pyramidal neurons using a 3-dimensional reconstruction of neurons expressing mRFP after in utero electroporation. With both methodologies, a shortening and decreased complexity of the dendritic arbors was observed, which is compatible with an increased GluN2A over GluN2B ratio. Recordings of extracellular excitatory postsynaptic potentials in the auditory cortex revealed an increased synaptic response after fluoxetine and were consistent with an enrichment of GluN2A-containing NMDA receptors. Our results confirm that fluoxetine favors maturation and refinement of extensive cortical networks, including the auditory cortex. The fluoxetine-induced receptor switch may decrease GluN2B-dependent toxicity and thus could be applied in the future to treat neurodegenerative brain disorders characterized by glutamate toxicity and/or by an aberrant network connectivity.