The Effect of Citalopram on Midbrain CRF Receptors 1 and 2 in a Primate Model of Stress-Induced Amenorrhea


We have demonstrated marked differences in the neurobiology of the serotonin system between stress-sensitive (SS) and stress-resilient (SR) cynomolgus macaques characterized in a model of stress-induced amenorrhea, also called functional hypothalamic amenorrhea (FHA). Dysfunction of the serotonin system in SS monkeys suggested that administration of a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) might correct FHA. This study examines the effect of escitalopram (CIT) administration to SS and SR monkeys on corticotrophin-releasing factor (CRF) receptor 1 (CRF-R1) and CRF receptor 2 (CRF-R2) gene expression in the serotonin cell body region of the midbrain dorsal raphe. CRF-R1 was not significantly different between groups. There was a significant effect of treatment and a significant interaction between treatment and stress sensitivity on the average CRF-R2-positive pixel area (P < .004 and P < .006, respectively) and on the average number of CRF-R2-positive cells (P < .023 and P < .025, respectively). CIT significantly increased CRF-R2-positive pixel area and cell number in the SS group (pixel area P < .001; cell number P < .01; Bonferoni) but not in the SR group. In summary, CIT administration tended to decrease CRF-R1, but the small animal number precluded significance. CIT administration significantly increased CRF-R2 only in SS animals. These data suggest that the administration of CIT reduces anxiogenic components and increases anxiolytic components of the CRF system in the midbrain serotonin network, which in turn leads to improved ovarian function. Moreover, these data raise the possibility that SSRIs may be effective in the treatment of stress-induced infertility.

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Correspondence to Cynthia L. Bethea.

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Senashova, O., Reddy, A.P., Cameron, J.L. et al. The Effect of Citalopram on Midbrain CRF Receptors 1 and 2 in a Primate Model of Stress-Induced Amenorrhea. Reprod. Sci. 19, 623–632 (2012).

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  • stress
  • selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor
  • corticotropin-releasing hormone receptors
  • dorsal raphe
  • serotonin
  • and macaques