Role of Tyrosine Nitrosylation in Stress-Induced Major Depressive Disorder : Mechanisms and Implications

Major depressive disorder (MDD) has a lifetime prevalence of approximately 10% and is one of the most common diseases worldwide. Although many pathogenetic mechanisms of MDD have been proposed, molecular details and a unifying hypothesis of the pathogenesis of MDD remain to be defined. Here, we investigated whether tyrosine nitrosylation, which is caused by reaction of the C-atom 3 of the tyrosine phenol ring with peroxynitrate (ONOO), plays a role in experimental MDD, because tyrosine nitrosylation may affect many cell functions altered in MDD. To this end, we induced stress through glucocorticoid application or chronic environmental unpredictable stress and determined tyrosine nitrosylation in the hippocampus through immuno-staining and ELISA. The role of catalases and peroxidases for tyrosine nitrosylation was measured using enzyme assays. We show that glucocorticoid- and chronic unpredictable environmental stress induced tyrosine nitrosylation in the hippocampus. Long-term treatment of stressed mice with the classical antidepressants amitriptyline or fluoxetine prevented tyrosine nitrosylation. Tyrosine nitrosylation was also prevented through i.v. application of anti-ceramide antibodies or recombinant ceramidase to neutralize or degrade, respectively, blood plasma ceramide that has been recently shown to induce experimental MDD. Finally, the application of phosphatidic acid, previously shown to be reduced in the hippocampus upon stress, also reverted stress-induced tyrosine nitrosylation. The inhibition of tyrosine nitrosylation by interfering with the formation of NO radicals at least partly restored normal behavior in stressed mice. These data suggest that tyrosine nitrosylation might contribute to the pathogenesis of MDD and targeting this process might contribute to the treatment of MDD.


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