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Expression of 22 serotonin-related genes in rat brain after sub-acute serotonin depletion or reuptake inhibition

  • Jakob Näslund (a1), Erik Studer (a1), Staffan Nilsson (a2) and Elias Eriksson (a1)



Although the assessment of expression of serotonin-related genes in experimental animals has become a common strategy to shed light on variations in brain serotonergic function, it remains largely unknown to what extent the manipulation of serotonin levels causes detectable changes in gene expression. We therefore chose to investigate how sub-acute depletion or elevation of brain serotonin influences the expression of a number of serotonin-related genes in six brain areas.


Male Wistar rats were administered a serotonin synthesis inhibitor, para-chlorophenylalanine (p-CPA), or a serotonin reuptake inhibitor, paroxetine, for 3 days and then sacrificed. The expression of a number of serotonin-related genes in the raphe nuclei, hypothalamus, amygdala, striatum, hippocampus and prefrontal cortex was investigated using real-time quantitative PCR (rt-qPCR).


While most of the studied genes were uninfluenced by paroxetine treatment, we could observe a robust downregulation of tryptophan hydroxylase-2 in the brain region where the serotonergic cell bodies reside, that is, the raphe nuclei. p-CPA induced a significant increase in the expression of Htr1b and Htr2a in amygdala and of Htr2c in the striatum and a marked reduction in the expression of Htr6 in prefrontal cortex; it also enhanced the expression of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (Bdnf) in raphe and hippocampus.


With some notable exceptions, the expression of most of the studied genes is left unchanged by short-term modulation of extracellular levels of serotonin.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: Jakob Näslund, Email:


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Expression of 22 serotonin-related genes in rat brain after sub-acute serotonin depletion or reuptake inhibition

  • Jakob Näslund (a1), Erik Studer (a1), Staffan Nilsson (a2) and Elias Eriksson (a1)


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