The hippocampus is an integral brain region for affective disorders. TRIP8b knockout mice lacking functional HCN channels as well as both HCN1 and HCN2 knockout mice have been shown to display antidepressant-like behaviors. The mechanisms or brain regions involved in these alterations in behavior, however, are not clear. We developed a lentiviral shRNA system to examine whether knockdown of HCN1 protein in the dorsal hippocampal CA1 region is sufficient to produce antidepressant-like effects. We found that knockdown of HCN1 channels increased cellular excitability and resulted in physiological changes consistent with a reduction of Ih. Rats infused with lentiviral shRNA-HCN1 in the dorsal hippocampal CA1 region displayed antidepressant- and anxiolytic-like behaviors associated with widespread enhancement of hippocampal activity and upregulation of BDNF-mTOR signaling pathways. Our results suggest that HCN1 protein could be a potential target for treatment of anxiety and depression disorders.
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