HIV-1 infection affects approximately 37 million individuals and approximately 50% of seropositive individuals will develop symptoms of clinical depression and apathy. Dysfunctions of both serotonergic and dopaminergic neurotransmission have been implicated in the pathogenesis of motivational alterations. The present study evaluated the efficacy of a SSRI (escitalopram) in the HIV-1 transgenic (Tg) rat. Behavioral, neurochemical, and neuroanatomical outcomes with respect to HIV-1 and sex were evaluated to determine the efficacy of chronic escitalopram treatment. Escitalopram treatment restored function in each of the behavioral tasks that were sensitive to HIV-1 induced impairments. Further, escitalopram treatment restored HIV-1-mediated synaptodendritic damage in the nucleus accumbens; treatment with escitalopram significantly increased dendritic proliferation in HIV-1 Tg rats. However, restoration did not consistently occur with the neurochemical analysis in the HIV-1 rat. Taken together, these results suggest a role for SSRI therapies in repairing long-term HIV-1 protein-mediated neuronal damage and restoring function.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience