Synergy of oxytocin and citalopram in modulating Itgb3/Chl1 interplay: Relevance to sensitivity to SSRI therapy

Dušanka Stanić, Keren Oved, Ifat Israel-Elgali, Marin Jukić, Bojan Batinić, Nela Puškaš, Noam Shomron, David Gurwitz, Vesna Pešić*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Intranasal treatment with oxytocin showed beneficial effects in post-traumatic stress disorder and autism spectrum disorders; however, it was not investigated as much in depression. Keeping in mind the favorable effects of oxytocin on animal models of anxiety and depression, we postulated that synergy between prescribed first choice drugs, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and oxytocin could improve the treatment outcome compared with SSRI monotherapy. Our previous in vitro genome-wide transcriptomic study on human lymphoblastoid cell lines exposed to paroxetine resulted in increase of integrin β3 (ITGB3) gene expression, and further, ITGB3/CHL1 expression ratio was hypothesized to influence the sensitivity to SSRIs. The aim of this report was to explore molecular mechanisms behind the antidepressant-like oxytocin effect, alone and in synergy with citalopram, on behavioral and molecular level in corticosterone treated rats, a paradigm used to model anxiety and depression in animals. Oxytocin treatment (1) ameliorated corticosterone-induced reduction of neurogenesis and number of parvalbumin-positive interneurons in the hippocampal CA1 region, (2) enhanced anxiolytic- and antidepressant-like effects of citalopram in the open field test, and (3) the SSRI/oxytocin synergy persisted in reversing the reduction of the Itgb3 gene expression and increased Itgb3/Chl1 ratio in the prefrontal cortices. These results support the existence of synergy between citalopram and oxytocin in reversing the molecular and behavioral changes induced by corticosterone treatment and point to possible molecular mechanisms behind antidepressant-like effect of oxytocin.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105234
StatePublished - Jul 2021


FundersFunder number
Ministarstvo Prosvete, Nauke i Tehnološkog Razvoja


    • Citalopram
    • Depression
    • Itgb3/Chl1
    • Oxytocin


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