Effects of Brilliant Blue G, P2X7 receptor antagonist, in murine model of depression


on the July 18, 2018

Collaborative research project led by Prof. Vincent Camus

A P2X7 receptor antagonist reverses behavioural alterations, microglial activation and neuroendocrine dysregulation in an unpredictable chronic mild stress (UCMS) model of depression in mice


A polymorphism in the P2RX7 gene that encodes for the P2X7 ionotropic ATP-gated receptor (P2X7R) protein has been shown to be associated with an increased risk for developing depressive illnesses. However, the role of P2X7R in depression is still unclear. To better understand the role of P2X7R and its subsequent impact on microglial activation, we compared the effect of the P2X7R antagonist Brilliant Blue G (BBG) with that of fluoxetine in an unpredictable chronic mild stress (UCMS) model of depression in mice. Our results indicate that BBG (50 mg/kg body weight in 0.9% NaCl, 10 ml/kg/day) successfully reversed the degradation of coat states and nest-building scores induced by exposure to UCMS, similar to the conventional antidepressant fluoxetine (15 mg/kg body weight in 0.9% NaCl, 10 ml/kg/day). BBG also reversed the UCMS-induced microglial activation in cortical and hippocampal regions and the basal nuclei of mouse brains and corrected the UCMS-induced hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis dysregulation. In contrast to fluoxetine, however, BBG treatment did not increase the density of doublecortin-positive cells in the dentate gyrus, indicating that BBG had no impact on hippocampal neurogenesis. These results suggest that P2X7R is involved in recovery from depressive-like states caused by exposure to UCMS in a mechanism that involves restoration of the HPA axis but not hippocampal neurogenesis. These results add to the evidence that P2X7R antagonist agents may have potential value in the pharmacological management of depression.


P2X7, Neuroinflammation, Unpredictable chronic mild stress (UCMS), Major depressive disorder (MDD), Neuroendocrine HPA axis, Neurogenesis, Antidepressant pharmacotherapy, Treatment resistance, Microglia, Radioimmunoassay (RIA).

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