Saad, M. A., A. E. El-Sahar, R. H. Sayed, E. M. Elbaz, H. T. S. Helmy, and M. A. Senousy, "Venlafaxine Mitigates Depressive-Like Behavior in Ovariectomized Rats by Activating the EPO/EPOR/JAK2 Signaling Pathway and Increasing the Serum Estradiol Level.", Neurotherapeutics : the journal of the American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics, 2018 Oct 25. Abstract

Reduced estradiol levels are associated with depression in women during the transition to and after menopause. A considerable number of studies focusing on the theme of treating depression through the activation of erythropoietin (EPO)-induced signaling pathways have been published. Venlafaxine is an approved antidepressant drug that inhibits both serotonin and norepinephrine transporters. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of venlafaxine on the depressive-like behaviors and serum estradiol levels in female rats following ovariectomy (OVX) and the possible roles of EPO-induced signaling pathways. Venlafaxine (10 mg/kg/day) was orally administered to OVX rats over a period of 4 weeks using two different treatment regimens: either starting 24 h or 2 weeks after OVX. Venlafaxine showed a superior efficacy in inducing antidepressant-like effects after an acute treatment (24 h post-OVX) than after the delayed treatment (2 weeks post-OVX) and was characterized by a decreased immobility time in the forced swimming test. In parallel, venlafaxine induced EPO and EPO receptor mRNA expression and increased levels of phospho-Janus kinase 2 (p-JAK2), phospho-signal transducer and activator of transcription 5, and phospho-extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 in the hippocampus of OVX rats. Meanwhile, rats exhibited a marked reduction in the hippocampal Bax/Bcl2 ratio, caspase-3 activity, and tumor necrosis factor alpha levels after venlafaxine treatment. Venlafaxine also increased the hippocampal brain-derived neurotrophic factor and serum estradiol levels. Based on these findings, venlafaxine exerts a neuroprotective effect on OVX rats that is at least partially attributed to the activation of EPO/EPOR/JAK2 signaling pathways, anti-apoptotic activities, anti-inflammatory activities, and neurotrophic activities, as well as an increase in serum estradiol level. Graphical Abstract ᅟ.

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