Reversal of a Treatment-Resistant, Depression-Related Brain State with the Kv7 Channel Opener Retigabine

Mengyang Feng, Nicole A. Crowley, Akshilkumar Patel, Yao Guo, Sierra E. Bugni, Bernhard Luscher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Neuroinflammation is associated with increased vulnerability to diverse psychiatric conditions, including treatment-resistant major depressive disorder (MDD). Here we assessed whether high fat diet (HFD) induced neuroinflammation may be suitable to model a treatment-resistant depressive-like brain state in mice. Male and female mice were fed a HFD for 18 weeks, followed by quantitation of glucose tolerance, inflammatory markers of brain tissue (TNFα IL-6, IL-1β Iba-1), neural excitability in the prelimbic cortex (PLC), as well as assessment of emotional reactivity and hedonic behavior in a battery of behavioral tests. In addition, we assessed the behavioral responsiveness of mice to fluoxetine, desipramine, ketamine, and the Kv7 channel opener and anticonvulsant retigabine. HFD exposure led to glucose intolerance and neuroinflammation in male mice, with similar but non-significant trends in females. Neuroinflammation of males was associated with anxious-depressive-like behavior and defects in working memory, along with neural hyperexcitability and increased I h currents of pyramidal cells in the PLC. The behavioral changes were largely resistant to chronic treatment with fluoxetine and desipramine, as well as ketamine. By contrast, retigabine (also known as ezogabine) normalized neural excitability and I h currents recorded from slices of HFD-treated animals and significantly ameliorated most of the behavioral impairments, without effects in control diet exposed animals. Thus, treatment resistant depressive-like brain states that are associated with chronic neuroinflammation may involve hyperexcitability of pyramidal neurons and may be effectively treated by retigabine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)109-125
Number of pages17
StatePublished - May 15 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience


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