Interleukin-1beta Causes Fluoxetine Resistance in an Animal Model of Epilepsy-Associated Depression

Eduardo A. Pineda, Julie G. Hensler, Raman Sankar, Don Shin, Teresa F. Burke, Andréy M. Mazarati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Depression represents a common comorbidity of epilepsy and is frequently resistant to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI). We tested the hypothesis that the SSRI resistance in epilepsy associated depression may be a result of a pathologically enhanced interleukin-1β (IL1-β) signaling, and consequently that the blockade of IL1-β may restore the effectiveness of SSRI. Epilepsy and concurrent depression-like impairments were induced in Wistar rats by pilocarpine status epilepticus (SE). The effects of the 2-week long treatment with fluoxetine, interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1ra), and their combination were examined using behavioral, biochemical, neuroendocrine, and autoradiographic assays. In post-SE rats, depression-like impairments included behavioral deficits indicative of hopelessness and anhedonia; the hyperactivity of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenocortical axis; the diminished serotonin output from raphe nucleus; and the upregulation of presynaptic serotonin 1-A (5-HT1A) receptors. Fluoxetine monotherapy exerted no antidepressant effects, whereas the treatment with IL-1ra led to the complete reversal of anhedonia and to a partial improvement of all other depressive impairments. Combined administration of fluoxetine and IL-1ra completely abolished all hallmarks of epilepsy-associated depressive abnormalities, with the exception of the hyperactivity of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenocortical axis, the latter remaining only partially improved. We propose that in certain forms of depression, including but not limited to depression associated with epilepsy, the resistance to SSRI may be driven by the pathologically enhanced interleukin-1β signaling and by the subsequent upregulation of presynaptic 5-HT1A receptors. In such forms of depression, the use of interleukin-1β blockers in conjunction with SSRI may represent an effective therapeutic approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)477-485
Number of pages9
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Epilepsy
  • comorbidity
  • cytokines
  • depression
  • selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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