BACKGROUND - Reductions in cell number are found within the medial prefrontal cortex (PFC) in major depression and bipolar disorder, conditions for which electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a highly effective treatment. We investigated whether electroconvulsive seizure (ECS) in rats stimulates cellular proliferation in the PFC immediately and four weeks after the treatments. In parallel, we examined if ECS also alters the expression of Sprouty2 (SPRY2), an inhibitor of cell proliferation.
METHODS - Sprague-Dawley rats received 10 days of ECS treatments and bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) injections. After a four week survival period, we estimated the density and number of BrdU-, proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA)-, and SPRY2-immunoreactive cells in the medial (infralimbic) PFC (ILPFC). We also determined the percentage of BrdU-labeled cells that were immunoreactive for markers specific to oligodendrocytes, astrocytes, endothelial cells and neurons.
RESULTS - ECS dramatically enhanced the proliferation of new cells in the infralimbic PFC, and this effect persisted four weeks following the treatments. The percentage of new cells expressing oligodendrocyte precursor cell markers increased slightly following ECS. In contrast, ECS dramatically reduced the number of cells expressing SPRY2.
CONCLUSIONS - ECS stimulates long-lasting increases in glial proliferation within the ILPFC. ECS also decreases SPRY2 expression in the same region, an effect that might contribute to increased glial proliferation.