In vivo Hippocampal Serotonin Dynamics in Male and Female Mice: Determining Effects of Acute Escital

Depression is a highly prevalent psychiatric disorder, impacting females at a rate roughly twice that of males. This disparity has become the focus of many studies which are working to determine if there are environmental or biological underpinnings to depression pathology. The biology of depression is not well understood, but experts agree that a key neurotransmitter of interest is serotonin. Most research on basic serotonin neurochemistry, by us and others, has predominantly focused on male models. Thus, it is now critical to include female models to decipher possible fundamental differences between the sexes that may underlie this disorder. In this paper, we seek to determine any such differences using fast-scan cyclic voltammetry (FSCV) and fast-scan controlled adsorption voltammetry. These techniques allow us to probe the serotonergic system via measurement of evoked and ambient serotonin at carbon fiber microelectrodes (CFMs). Our data reveal no statistical differences, in the hippocampus, in female serotonin chemistry during the different stages of the estrous cycle compared to the mean female response. Furthermore, no difference was observed in evoked serotonin release and reuptake, nor ambient extracellular serotonin levels between male and female mice. We applied a previously developed mathematical model that fits our serotonin signals as a function of several synaptic processes that control the extracellular levels of this transmitter. We used the model to study potential system differences between males and females. One hypothesis brought fourth, that female mice exhibit tighter autoreceptor control of serotonin, is validated via literature and methiothepin challenge. We postulate that this tight regulation may act as a control mechanism against changes in the serotonin signal mediated by estrogen spikes. Importantly, this safety mechanism has no consequence for acutely administered escitalopram’s (ESCIT’s) ability to increase extracellular serotonin between the sexes. This work demonstrates little fundamental differences in in vivo hippocampal serotonin between the sexes, bar control mechanisms in female mice that can be observed under extraneous circumstances. We thus highlight the importance of considering sex as a biological factor in determining pharmacodynamics for personalized medical treatments that involve targeting serotonin receptors. To read more, click here.