Fluoxetine disrupts motivation and GABAergic signaling in adolescent female hamsters. Academic Article uri icon


  • Initial antidepressant treatment can paradoxically worsen symptoms in depressed adolescents by undetermined mechanisms. Interestingly, antidepressants modulate GABAA receptors, which mediate paradoxical effects of other therapeutic drugs, particularly in females. Although the neuroanatomic site of action for this paradox is unknown, elevated GABAA receptor signaling in the nucleus accumbens can disrupt motivation. We assessed fluoxetine's effects on motivated behaviors in pubescent female hamsters - anhedonia in the reward investigational preference (RIP) test as well as anxiety in the anxiety-related feeding/exploration conflict (AFEC) test. We also assessed accumbal signaling by RT-PCR and electrophysiology. Fluoxetine initially worsened motivated behaviors at puberty, relative to adulthood. It also failed to improve these behaviors as pubescent hamsters transitioned into adulthood. Low accumbal mRNA levels of multiple GABAA receptor subunits and GABA-synthesizing enzyme, GAD67, assessed by RT-PCR, suggested low GABAergic tone at puberty. Nonetheless, rapid fluoxetine-induced reductions of 5GABAA receptor and BDNF mRNA levels at puberty were consistent with age-related differences in GABAergic responses to fluoxetine and disruption of the motivational state. Whole-cell patch clamping of accumbal slices also suggested low GABAergic tone by the low amplitude of miniature inhibitory postsynaptic currents (mIPSCs) at puberty. It also confirmed age-related differences in GABAergic responses to fluoxetine. Specifically, fluoxetine potentiated mIPSC amplitude and frequency at puberty, but attenuated the amplitude during adulthood. These results implicate GABAergic tone and GABAA receptor plasticity in adverse motivational responses and resistance to fluoxetine during adolescence.

published proceedings

  • Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry

altmetric score

  • 2.85

author list (cited authors)

  • Shannonhouse, J. L., DuBois, D. W., Fincher, A. S., Vela, A. M., Henry, M. M., Wellman, P. J., Frye, G. D., & Morgan, C.

citation count

  • 3

complete list of authors

  • Shannonhouse, John L||DuBois, Dustin W||Fincher, Annette S||Vela, Alejandra M||Henry, Morgan M||Wellman, Paul J||Frye, Gerald D||Morgan, Caurnel

publication date

  • January 2016