CITALOPRAM AND MIRTAZAPINE EFFECTS IN CHANGES IN FURA2 AND FURAFF RATIOMETRIC FLUORESCENCE AND IN CALCEIN MICROPLATE ABSORBED FLUORESCENCE IN C6 AND SH-SY5Y CELL LINES
Research in the field of molecular neuroscience contributes a better perception of the events that trigger neurodegeneration. At the forefront of this work is the study of intracellular calcium as a consequence of mitochondrial dumping and NMDA receptor activation by glutamate. Increased intracellular calcium presages excitotoxicity with ultimate apoptosis of the cell. Among the many disorders involving this sequence is depression, a disorder that in and of itself is a risk factor for neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer disease. The successful use of anti-depressants to alleviate the depressive state leads to the question about whether these pharmacological agents, as part of their effect to ameliorate depression, might have an effect on intracellular calcium. Until now, this has not been explored directly but such exploration was initiated with this thesis. As a model for astrocytes and neurons, two cell lines, C6 and SH-SY5Y were used. These were differentiated with all-trans retinoic acid into astrocyte-like and neuron-like cells. Graphic imaging of intracellular calcium by ratiometrics is not new, but what is new is using this technique to evaluate the effect of the antidepressants mirtazapine and citalopram on intracellular calcium fluxes induced by glutamate. Furthermore, comparing the ratiometric intracellular calcium flux in the presence of mirtazapine and citalopram to that of known NMDA blockers was also done for the first time. Also studied were the acute and chronic effects of mirtazapine and citalopram on cell viability. The antidepressant agents, mirtazapine and citalopram, were chosen for this study. Mirtazapine blocks the adrenergic and serotonergic inhibitory autoreceptors which results in the increased release of these neurotransmitters and increases their concentration in the synapse. And it also has been shown to have an anti-oxidant and a calcium modulatory effect. Citalopram has the highest degree of serotonin reuptake selectivity of all the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. The ratiometric studies found that mirtazapine and citalopram reduce the effect of glutamate-induced increase in relative [Ca2+]i by either a direct or indirect action on NMDA receptors. This effect is not similar to the NMDA blockers memantine and AP5. The supporting evidence is that CCCP, which normally releases calcium from mitochondria, has no effect in cells treated with acute mirtazapine or citalopram. This indicates that no calcium entered the cell – and subsequently none was taken up by mitochondria – in response to glutamate. However, these observations were with a limited number of cells and, therefore, these results will have to be verified by different techniques by different laboratories. In microplate studies, all drugs studied reduced cell viability but the mechanism behind this reduced viability remains to be determined. This may be due to mutations in enzymatic expression, uptake of drug through the cell membrane, or other perturbations. The reduction in cell viability induced by acute glutamate was attenuated by pretreatment with mirtazapine or citalopram. Moreover, chronic treatment of the cells with mirtazapine or citalopram for 10 weeks before acute treatment with glutamate either attenuated the effect on viability or reversed it. Based on this present study, mirtazapine and citalopram may be useful as neuroprotective agents to alleviate not only depression but also to reduce cell death in neurodegenerative diseases, trauma and stroke.
citalopram, mirtazapine, ratiometric microscopy, CCCP, calcium, NMDA receptor, glutamate, calcein absorbance viability
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)