The functional suppression of serotonin (5-HT) type 7 receptor (5-HT7R) is forming a basis for scientific discussion in psychopharmacology due to its rapid-acting antidepressant-like action. A novel mood-stabilizing atypical antipsychotic agent, lurasidone, exhibits a unique receptor-binding profile, including a high affinity for 5-HT7R antagonism. A member of a novel class of antidepressants, vortioxetine, which is a serotonin partial agonist reuptake inhibitor (SPARI), also exhibits a higher affinity for serotonin transporter, serotonin receptors type 1A (5-HT1AR) and type 3 (5-HT3R), and 5-HT7R. However, the effects of chronic administration of lurasidone, vortioxetine, and the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), escitalopram, on 5-HT7R function remained to be clarified. Thus, to explore the mechanisms underlying the clinical effects of vortioxetine, escitalopram, and lurasidone, the present study determined the effects of these agents on thalamocortical glutamatergic transmission, which contributes to emotional/mood perception, using multiprobe microdialysis and 5-HT7R expression using capillary immunoblotting. Acute local administration of a 5-HT7R agonist and antagonist into the mediodorsal thalamic nucleus (MDTN) enhanced and reduced thalamocortical glutamatergic transmission, induced by N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA)/glutamate receptor inhibition in the reticular thalamic nucleus (RTN). Acute local administration of a relevant therapeutic concentration of vortioxetine and lurasidone into the MDTN suppressed the thalamocortical glutamatergic transmission via 5-HT7R inhibition, whereas that of escitalopram activated 5-HT7R. Subchronic administration of effective doses of vortioxetine and lurasidone (for 7 days) reduced the thalamocortical glutamatergic transmission, but escitalopram did not affect it, whereas subchronic administration of these three agents attenuated the stimulatory effects of the 5-HT7R agonist on thalamocortical glutamatergic transmission. Subchronic administration of effective doses of vortioxetine, lurasidone, and escitalopram downregulated the 5-HT7R expression of the plasma membrane in the MDTN; the 5-HT7R downregulation induced by vortioxetine and lurasidone was observed at 3 days, but that induced by escitalopram required a longer duration of 7 days. These results indicate that chronic administration of vortioxetine, escitalopram, and lurasidone generate downregulation of 5-HT7R in the thalamus; however, the direct inhibition of 5-HT7R associated with vortioxetine and lurasidone generates more rapid downregulation than the indirect elevation of the extracellular serotonin level via serotonin transporter inhibition by escitalopram.
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