Mood disorders cause much suffering and lost productivity worldwide, compounded by the fact that many patients are not effectively treated by currently available medications. The most commonly prescribed antidepressant drugs are the selective serotonin (5-HT) reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which act by blocking the high-affinity 5-HT transporter (SERT). The increase in extracellular 5-HT produced by SSRIs is thought to be critical to initiate downstream events needed for therapeutic effects. A potential explanation for their limited therapeutic efficacy is the recently characterized presence of low-affinity, high-capacity transporters for 5-HT in brain [i.e., organic cation transporters (OCTs) and plasma membrane monoamine transporter], which may limit the ability of SSRIs to increase extracellular 5-HT. Decynium-22 (D-22) is a blocker of these transporters, and using this compound we uncovered a significant role for OCTs in 5-HT uptake in mice genetically modified to have reduced or no SERT expression (Baganz et al., 2008). This raised the possibility that pharmacological inactivation of D-22-sensitive transporters might enhance the neurochemical and behavioral effects of SSRIs. Here we show that in wild-type mice D-22 enhances the effects of the SSRI fluvoxamine to inhibit 5-HT clearance and to produce antidepressant-like activity. This antidepressant-like activity of D-22 was attenuated in OCT3 KO mice, whereas the effect of D-22 to inhibit 5-HT clearance in the CA3 region of hippocampus persisted. Our findings point to OCT3, as well as other D-22-sensitive transporters, as novel targets for new antidepressant drugs with improved therapeutic potential.
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