Depression is a major health problem for which most patients are not effectively treated. This underscores a need to identify new targets for the development of antidepressants with improved efficacy. Studies have shown that blockade of low-affinity/high-capacity transporters, such as organic cation transporters (OCTs) and the plasma membrane monoamine transporter (PMAT), with decynium-22 can produce antidepressant-like effects and inhibit serotonin clearance in brain when the serotonin transporter is pharmacologically or genetically compromised. In vitro studies show that OCTs/PMAT are also capable of norepinephrine transport, raising the possibility that decynium-22 might enhance the antidepressant-like effects of norepinephrine transporter inhibitors. Using in vivo electrochemistry, we show that local administration of decynium-22 into dentate gyrus of hippocampus enhanced the ability of the norepinephrine transporter blocker, desipramine, but not the dual norepinephrine/serotonin transporter blocker venlafaxine, to inhibit norepinephrine clearance. In parallel, systemic administration of decynium-22 (0.32 mg/kg) enhanced the antidepressant-like effects of desipramine (32 mg/kg), but not those of venlafaxine, in the tail suspension test, underscoring the heterogeneous response of mice to antidepressants, including those that share similar mechanisms of action. Systemic administration of normetanephrine, a potent blocker of OCT3, failed to potentiate the antidepressant-like effects of desipramine, suggesting that the actions of decynium-22 to augment the antidepressant-like effects of desipramine are likely mediated by another OCT isoform and/or PMAT. Taken together with existing literature, concurrent blockade of OCTs and/or PMAT merits further investigation as an adjunctive therapeutic for desipramine-like antidepressant drugs.
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