Systemic or intracerebral administration of kainic acid in rodents induces neuronal death followed by a cascade of neuroplastic changes in the hippocampus. Kainic acid-induced neuroplasticity is evidenced by alterations in hippocampal neurogenesis, dispersion of the granule cell layer and re-organisation of mossy fibres. Similar abnormalities are observed in patients with temporal lobe epilepsy and, therefore, kainic acid-induced hippocampal neuroplasticity might mimic pathological mechanisms leading to the formation of 'epileptic brain' in patients with temporal lobe epilepsy. Previous studies have demonstrated that selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor antidepressants might reduce the severity of seizures in epileptic patients and reduce neuronal death in laboratory animal models of kainic acid-induced neurotoxicity. In the present study, we investigated whether kainic acid-induced neuroplasticity in mice is modulated by the repeated administration of citalopram, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. We found that at the histopathological level, repeated citalopram treatment counteracted the kainic acid-induced neuronal loss and dispersion of young granule neurons expressing the polysialylated neural cell adhesion molecule within the granule cell layer of the hippocampus. Citalopram also counteracted the downregulation of reelin on both mRNA and protein levels induced by kainic acid administration. Our findings indicate that repeated administration of citalopram is able to prevent kainic acid-induced abnormal brain plasticity and thereby prevent the formation of an epileptic phenotype. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.
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