Direct retino-raphe projection alters serotonergic tone and affective behavior

Chaoran Ren, Liju Luan, Wui Man Lau, Xin Huang, Jian Yang, Yuan Zhou, Xihong Wu, Jie Gao, Gary E. Pickard, Kwok Fai So, Mingliang Pu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Light is a powerful modulator of higher-order cognitive processes such as mood but it remains unclear which neural circuits mediate the impact of light on affective behavior. We found that light deprivation produces a depressive-like behavioral state that is reversed by activation of direct retinal signals to the serotonergic dorsal raphe nucleus (DRN) in a manner equivalent to treatment with the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor fluoxetine. Surprisingly, the DRN-projecting retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) are indistinguishable from the classic alpha/Y-like RGC type that contributes to image-forming visual pathways. Silencing RGC firing or specific immunotoxin ablation of DRN-projecting RGCs increased depressive-like behavior and reduced serotonin levels in the DRN. Serotonin has a key role in the pathophysiology of depression, and these results demonstrate that retino-raphe signals modulate DRN serotonergic tone and affective behavior.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1163-1175
Number of pages13
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • affective visual information
  • depression
  • dorsal raphe nucleus
  • retinal ganglion cell
  • SSRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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