Elimination of Serotonergic Neurons by Stereotaxic Injection of 5,7-Dihydroxytryptamine in the Dorsal Raphe Nuclei of Mice

This article has been accepted and is currently in production


Stereotaxic injection has been widely used for direct delivery of compounds or viruses to targeted brain areas in rodents. Direct targeting of serotonergic neurons in the dorsal raphe nucleus (DRN) can cause excessive bleeding and animal death, due to its location below the superior sagittal sinus (SSS). This protocol describes the generation of a DRN serotonergic neuron-lesioned mouse model (>90% survival rate) with stable loss of >70% 5-HT-positive cells in the DRN. The lesion is induced by stereotaxic injection of a selective serotonergic neurotoxin 5,7-dihydroxytryptamine (5,7-DHT) into the DRN using an angled approach (30° in the anterior/posterior direction) to avoid injury to the SSS. DRN serotonergic neuron-lesioned mice display anxiety-associated behavior alterations, which helps to confirm success of the DRN lesion surgery. This method is used here for DRN lesions, but it can also be used for other stereotaxic injections that require angular injections to avoid midline structures. This DRN serotonergic neuron-lesioned mouse model provides a valuable tool for understanding the role of serotonergic neurons in the pathogenesis of psychiatric disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder.