Social isolation rearing-induced anxiety and response to agomelatine in male and female rats: role of corticosterone, oxytocin, and vasopressin
Harvey, Brian H.
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Background: The chronobiotic antidepressant, agomelatine, acts via re-entrainment of circadian rhythms. Earlier work has demonstrated late-life anxiety and reduced corticosterone in post-weaning social isolation reared (SIR) rats. Agomelatine was anxiolytic in this model but did not reverse hypocortisolemia. Reduced corticosterone or cortisol (in humans) is well-described in anxiety states, although the anxiolytic-like actions of agomelatine may involve targeting another mechanism. Central oxytocin and vasopressin exert anxiolytic and anxiogenic effects, respectively, and are subject to circadian fluctuation, while also showing sex-dependent differences in response to various challenges. Aims and methods: If corticosterone is less involved in the anxiolytic-like actions of agomelatine in SIR rats, we wondered whether effects on vasopressin and oxytocin may mediate these actions, and whether sex-dependent effects are evident. Anxiety as assessed in the elevated plus maze, as well as plasma vasopressin, oxytocin, and corticosterone were analyzed in social vs SIR animals receiving sub-chronic treatment with vehicle or agomelatine (40 mg/kg/day intraperitoneally at 16:00) for 16 days. Results: Social isolation rearing induced significant anxiety together with increased plasma vasopressin levels, but decreased corticosterone and oxytocin. While corticosterone displayed sex-dependent changes, vasopressin, and oxytocin changes were independent of sex. Agomelatine suppressed anxiety as well as reversed elevated vasopressin in both male and female rats and partially reversed reduced oxytocin in female but not male rats. Conclusion: SIR-associated anxiety later in life involves reduced corticosterone and oxytocin, and elevated vasopressin. The anxiolytic-like effects of agomelatine in SIR rats predominantly involve targeting of elevated vasopressin
- Faculty of Health Sciences