Effects of citalopram on serotonin and CRF systems in the midbrain of primates with differences in stress sensitivity

Cynthia Bethea, Fernanda B. Lima, Maria L. Centeno, Karin V. Weissheimer, Olga Senashova, Arubala Reddy, Judy L. Cameron

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


This chapter reviews the neurobiological effects of stress sensitivity and s-citalpram (CIT) treatment observed in our nonhuman primate model of functional hypothalamic amenorrhea (FHA). This type of infertility, also known as stress-induced amenorrhea, is exhibited by cynomolgus macaques. In small populations, some individuals are stress-sensitive (SS) and others are highly stress-resilient (HSR). The SS macaques have suboptimal secretion of estrogen and progesterone during normal menstrual cycles. SS monkeys also have decreased serotonin gene expression and increased CRF expression compared to HSR monkeys. Recently, we found that CIT treatment improved ovarian steroid secretion in SS monkeys, but had no effect in HSR monkeys. Examination of the serotonin system revealed that SS monkeys had significantly lower Fev (fifth Ewing variant, rodent Pet1), TPH2 (tryptophan hydroxylase 2), 5HT1A autoreceptor and SERT (serotonin reuptake transporter) expression in the dorsal raphe than SR monkeys. However, CIT did not alter the expression of either Fev, TPH2, SERT or 5HT1A mRNAs. In contrast, SS monkeys tended to have a higher density of CRF fiber innervation of the dorsal raphe than HSR monkeys, and CIT significantly decreased the CRF fiber density in SS animals. In addition, CIT increased CRF-R2 gene expression in the dorsal raphe. We speculate that in a 15-week time frame, the therapeutic effect of S-citalopram may be achieved through a mechanism involving extracellular serotonin inhibition of CRF and stimulation of CRF-R2, rather than alteration of serotonin-related gene expression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)200-218
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Chemical Neuroanatomy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2011


  • 5HT1A
  • CRF-R2
  • Corticotropin releasing factor
  • Fev
  • Macaques
  • SLC6A4
  • TPH2
  • Urocortin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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