Rapid antidepressant-like effects of muscarinic receptor antagonists require BDNF-dependent signaling in the ventrolateral periaqueductal gray

Hung Wei Kan, Wei Hao Peng, Cheng Chun Wu, Deng Wu Wang, Ming Tatt Lee, Yung Kuo Lee, Tian Huei Chu, Yu Cheng Ho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Rationale: Clinical reports reveal that scopolamine, an acetylcholine muscarinic receptor antagonist, exerts rapid antidepressant effects in depressed patients, but the mechanisms underlying the therapeutic effects have not been fully identified. Objectives: The present study examines the cellular mechanisms by which scopolamine produces antidepressant-like effects through its action in the ventrolateral midbrain periaqueductal gray (vlPAG). Methods: We used a well-established mouse model of depression induced by chronic restraint stress (CRS) exposure for 14 days. Behaviors were tested using the forced swim test (FST), tail suspension test (TST), female urine sniffing test (FUST), novelty-suppressed feeding test (NSFT), and locomotor activity (LMA). Synaptic transmission in the vlPAG was measured by whole-cell patch-clamp recordings. IntravlPAG microinjection was used to pharmacologically verify the signaling cascades of scopolamine in the vlPAG. Results: The results demonstrated that intraperitoneal injection of scopolamine produced antidepressant-like effects in a dose-dependent manner without affecting locomotor activity. CRS elicited depression-like behaviors, whereas intraperitoneal injection of scopolamine alleviated CRS-induced depression-like behaviors. CRS diminished glutamatergic transmission in the vlPAG, while scopolamine reversed the above effects. Moreover, intravlPAG microinjection of the L-type voltage-dependent calcium channel (VDCC) blocker verapamil, tropomyosin-related kinase B (TrkB) receptor antagonist ANA-12, mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) inhibitor rapamycin, and α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid receptor (AMPA) antagonist CNQX prevented scopolamine-induced antidepressant-like effects. Conclusions: Scopolamine ameliorated CRS-elicited depression-like behavior required activation of VDCC, resulting in activity-dependent release of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), engaging the TrkB receptor and downstream mTORC1 signaling in the vlPAG.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3805-3818
Number of pages14
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • AMPA receptor
  • BDNF
  • Depression
  • Electrophysiology
  • mTORC1
  • Periaqueductal gray
  • Restraint stress
  • Scopolamine
  • Synaptic transmission
  • Voltage-dependent calcium channel

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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