Low-frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (1-Hz rTMS) is a promising noninvasive tool for the treatment of depression. Hippocampal neuronal plasticity is thought to play a pivotal role in the pathophysiology of depressive disorders and the mechanism of action of antidepressant treatments. We investigated the effect of 1-Hz rTMS treatment on hippocampal dentate gyrus structural plasticity and related emotional behaviors modifications. Experimentally, adult male mice received either five days of 1-Hz rTMS or Sham stimulation. After stimulation, the mice underwent a battery of tests for anxiety-like and depression-like behaviors. We also tested the effect of treatment on mature and newly generated granule cell dendritic complexity. Our data showed that 1-Hz rTMS induced structural plasticity in mature granule cells, as evidenced by increased dendritic length and number of intersections. However, the stimulation did not increase the proliferation of the dentate gyrus progenitor cells. On the contrary, the stimulated mice showed increased dendritic complexity of newly generated neurons. Moreover, 1-Hz rTMS resulted in antidepressant-like effects in the tail suspension test, but it did not affect anxiety-like behaviors. Therefore, our results indicate that 1-Hz rTMS modulates dentate gyrus morphological plasticity in mature and newly generated neurons. Furthermore, our data provide some evidence of an association between the antidepressant-like activity of 1-Hz rTMS and structural plasticity in the hippocampus.
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