We investigated whether a specific serotonin (5-HT) receptor-mediated mechanism was involved in dextromethorphan (DM)-induced serotonergic behaviors. We firstly observed that the activation of 5-HT1A receptor, but not 5-HT2A receptor, contributed to DM-induced serotonergic behaviors in mice. We aimed to determine whether the upregulation of 5-HT1A receptor induced by DM facilitates the specific induction of certain PKC isoform, because previous reports suggested that 5-HT1A receptor activates protein kinase C (PKC). A high dose of DM (80 mg/kg, i.p.) induced a selective induction of PKCδ out of PKCα, PKCβI, PKCβII, PKCξ, and PKCδ in the hypothalamus of wild-type (WT) mice. More importantly, 5-HT1A receptor co-immunoprecipitated PKCδ in the presence of DM. Consistently, rottlerin, a pharmacological inhibitor of PKCδ, or PKCδ knockout significantly protected against increases in 5-HT1A receptor gene expression, 5-HT turnover rate, and serotonergic behaviors induced by DM. Treatment with DM resulted in an initial increase in nuclear factor erythroid-2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) nuclear translocation and DNA-binding activity, γ-glutamylcysteine (GCL) mRNA expression, and glutathione (GSH) level. This compensative induction was further potentiated by rottlerin or PKCδ knockout. However, GCL mRNA and GSH/GSSG levels were decreased 6 and 12 h post-DM. These decreases were attenuated by PKCδ inhibition. Our results suggest that interaction between 5-HT1A receptor and PKCδ is critical for inducing DM-induced serotonergic behaviors and that inhibition of PKCδ attenuates the serotonergic behaviors via downregulation of 5-HT1A receptor and upregulation of Nrf2-dependent GSH synthesis.
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