Mendez-David I, Tritschler L, Ali ZE, Damiens MH, Pallardy M, David DJ, Kerdine-Römer S, Gardier AM.
Several studies have shown that Nrf2, a major redox-sensitive transcription factor involved in the cellular defense against oxidative stress, increases susceptibility to depressive-like behavior. However, little is known about the influence of antidepressant drugs on Nrf2 signaling and expression of its target genes (GCLC, NQO1, HO-1) in the brain. We found that chronic treatment of a mouse model of anxiety/depression (CORT model) with a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI, fluoxetine, 18mg/kg/day) reversed CORT-induced anxiety/depression-like behavior in mice. Chronic fluoxetine treatment restored CORT-induced decreases in Nrf2 protein levels and its target genes in the cortex and hippocampus. Furthermore, we found that chronic fluoxetine also increased brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) protein levels in cortex and hippocampus of CORT-treated Nrf2 knockout mice (KO, Nrf2(-/-)). Taken together, these data suggest that Nrf2 signaling contributes to fluoxetine-induced neuroprotection via an unexpected mechanism involving 5-HT transporter SERT blockade, and not through enhancement of BDNF expression.