Document Type


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Journal / Book Title

Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics


Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a common psychiatric disorder that often features impairments in cognitive function, and these cognitive symptoms can be important determinants of functional ability. Vortioxetine is a multimodal antidepressant that may improve some aspects of cognitive function in patients with MDD, including attention, processing speed, executive function, and memory. However, the cause of these effects is unclear, and there are several competing theories on the underlying mechanism, notably including regionally-selective downstream enhancement of glutamate neurotransmission and increased acetylcholine (ACh) neurotransmission. The current work sought to evaluate the ACh hypothesis by examining vortioxetine's ability to reverse scopolamine-induced impairments in rodent tests of memory and attention. Additionally, vortioxetine's effects on hippocampal extracellular ACh levels were examined alongside studies of vortioxetine's pharmacokinetic profile. We found that acute vortioxetine reversed scopolamine-induced impairments in social and object recognition memory, but did not alter scopolamine-induced impairments in attention. Acute vortioxetine also induced a modest and short-lived increase in hippocampal ACh levels. However, this short- Term effect is at variance with vortioxetine's moderately long brain half life (5.1 hours). Interestingly, subchronic vortioxetine treatment failed to reverse scopolamine-induced social recognition memory deficits and had no effects on basal hippocampal ACh levels. These data suggest that vortioxetine has some effects on memory that could be mediated through cholinergic neurotransmission, however these effects are modest and only seen under acute dosing conditions. These limitations may argue against cholinergic mechanisms being the primary mediator of vortioxetine9s cognitive effects, which are observed under chronic dosing conditions in patients with MDD.


10.1124/jpet.116.233924Final published version Open

Published Citation

Pehrson, A. L., Hillhouse, T. M., Haddjeri, N., Rovera, R., Porter, J. H., Mørk, A., ... & Sanchez, C. (2016). Task-and treatment length–dependent effects of vortioxetine on scopolamine-induced cognitive dysfunction and hippocampal extracellular acetylcholine in rats. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, 358(3), 472-482.

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