Differential effects of antidepressants escitalopram versus lithium on Gs alpha membrane relocalization

Robert J. Donati, Jeffrey Schappi, Andrew H. Czysz, Alexander Jackson, Mark M. Rasenick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background: Plasma membrane localization can play a significant role in the ultimate function of certain proteins. Specific membrane domains like lipid rafts have been shown to be inhibitory domains to a number of signaling proteins, including Gsaα, and chronic antidepressant treatment facilitates Gs signaling by removing Gsaα form lipid rafts. The intent of this study is to compare the effects of the selective serotnin reuptake inhibitor, escitalopram, with that of the mood stabilizing drug, lithium. Results: There are a number of mechanisms of action proposed for lithium as a mood stabilizing agent, but the interactions between G proteins (particularly Gs) and mood stabilizing drugs are not well explored. Of particular interest was the possibility that there was some effect of mood stabilizers on the association between Gsaα and cholesterol-rich membrane microdomains (lipid rafts), similar to that seen with long-term antidepressant treatment. This was examined by biochemical and imaging (fluorescence recovery after photobleaching: FRAP) approaches. Results indicate that escitalopram was effective at liberating Gsaα from lipid rafts while lithium was not. Conclusions: There are a number of drug treatments for mood disorders and yet there is no unifying hypothesis for a cellular or molecular basis of action. It is evident that there may in fact not be a single mechanism, but rather a number of different mechanisms that converge at a common point. The results of this study indicate that the mood stabilizing agent, lithium, and the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, escitalopram, act on their cellular targets through mutually exclusive pathways. These results also validate the hypothesis that translocation of Gsaα from lipid rafts could serve as a biosignature for antidepressant action.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number40
JournalBMC Neuroscience
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 11 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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