Escitalopram affects spexin expression in the rat hypothalamus, hippocampus and striatum

Artur Pałasz, Aleksandra Suszka-Świtek, Łukasz Filipczyk, Katarzyna Bogus, Ewa Rojczyk, John Worthington, Marek Krzystanek, Ryszard Wiaderkiewicz

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Background Spexin (SPX) is a recently discovered neuropeptide that exhibits a large spectrum of central and peripheral regulatory activity, especially when considered as a potent anorexigenic factor. It has already been proven that antidepressants, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), can modulate peptidergic signaling in various brain structures. Despite these findings, there is so far no information regarding the influence of treatment with the SSRI antidepressant escitalopram on brain SPX expression. Methods In this current study we measured SPX mRNA and protein expression in the selected brain structures (hypothalamus, hippocampus and striatum) of rats chronically treated with a 10 mg/kg dose of escitalopram using quantitative Real-Time PCR and immunohistochemistry. Results Strikingly, long-term (4 week) drug treatment led to the downregulation of SPX expression in the rat hypothalamus. This supports the hypothesis that SPX may be involved in the hypothalamic serotonin-dependent actions of SSRI antidepressants and possibly also in the central mechanism of body mass increase. Conversely, SPX expression increased in the hippocampus and striatum. Conclusions This is the first report of the effects of a neuropsychiatric medication on SPX expression in animal brain. Our findings shed a new light on the pharmacology of antidepressants and may contribute to a better understanding of the alternative mechanisms responsible for antidepressant action.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1326-1331
Number of pages6
JournalPharmacological Reports
Issue number6
Early online date3 Sept 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016


  • Brain
  • Escitalopram
  • Neuropeptides
  • Spexin
  • SSRI


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