Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 26808347
Link to DOI – 10.1038/nm.4037
Nat Med 2016 Mar; 22(3): 254-61
The lateral habenula (LHb) encodes aversive signals, and its aberrant activity contributes to depression-like symptoms. However, a limited understanding of the cellular mechanisms underlying LHb hyperactivity has precluded the development of pharmacological strategies to ameliorate depression-like phenotypes. Here we report that an aversive experience in mice, such as foot-shock exposure (FsE), induces LHb neuronal hyperactivity and depression-like symptoms. This occurs along with increased protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) activity, a known regulator of GABAB receptor (GABABR) and G protein-gated inwardly rectifying potassium (GIRK) channel surface expression. Accordingly, FsE triggers GABAB1 and GIRK2 internalization, leading to rapid and persistent weakening of GABAB-activated GIRK-mediated (GABAB-GIRK) currents. Pharmacological inhibition of PP2A restores both GABAB-GIRK function and neuronal excitability. As a consequence, PP2A inhibition ameliorates depression-like symptoms after FsE and in a learned-helplessness model of depression. Thus, GABAB-GIRK plasticity in the LHb represents a cellular substrate for aversive experience. Furthermore, its reversal by PP2A inhibition may provide a novel therapeutic approach to alleviate symptoms of depression in disorders that are characterized by LHb hyperactivity.