The effect of acute and chronic sildenafil treatment with and without atropine co–administration on anxiety–like behaviour in rats
Slabbert, Francois Naudé
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The neurobiology of anxiety-related disorders is associated with impaired neuroplasticity. The glutamate/NO/cGMP pathway has been proposed to play a key role in neuroplasticity and neurodevelopment. It was demonstrated in recent reports that chronic co-administration of the phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitor sildenafil and the antimuscarinic agent atropine exerts antidepressive-like activity in rats, and that this effect is related to PDE5 inhibition, with consequent elevation of cGMP levels and enhanced protein kinase G stimulation. The current study investigated possible anxiolytic effects of the chronic co-administration of sildenafil and atropine in stress-sensitive Flinders Sensitive Line (FSL) rats. FSL rats received vehicle control, fluoxetine (15 mg/kg), atropine (1 mg/kg), sildenafil (10 mg/kg) or sildenafil plus atropine via intraperitoneal administration, either acutely 30 minutes prior to testing (acutely) or daily for 14 days (chronically). FRL control rats received only vehicle. Thereafter anxiety-like behaviour was evaluated in the social interaction test (SIT - acute) and elevated plus maze (EPM - acute and chronic). The current study also compared to different ways to score the EPM, namely the percentage time spend in the open arms of the EPM and both the number of full and half body open arm entries, and also implemented defecation on the EPM as a measure of anxiety. Vehicle-treated FSL rats exhibited more anxiety-like behaviour than FRL rats in both the SIT and EPM following acute treatment, and in the EPM following chronic treatment. Acute treatment with fluoxetine exerted anxiogenic activity in the SIT and EPM, but anxiolytic activity following chronic administration, as observed in the EPM. In acute treatments neither sildenafil nor sildenafil plus atropine yielded any significant effects on anxiety-like behaviour. However, following chronic treatment, sildenafil exerted anxiolytic activity in the EPM by increasing the time spend in the open arms (45.72% ± 9.94% vs. 20.80% ± 9.94%, P<0.001). Atropine exerted a small anxiolytic response (30.71% ± 8.40% vs. 20.80 ± 9.94%), whereas atropine co-administration was additive to sildenafil alone and yielded an enhanced anxiolytic effect in the elevated plus maze (59.56% ± 4.95% vs. 20.80% ± 9.94%, P<0.001), relative to vehicle control. The percentage time spend in the open arms was scored in the EPM, the results suggested that the chronic treatment with sildenafil plus atropine exert an anxiolytic-like effect in FSL rats and the number of fecal droppings did not increase which is also an indication of an anxiolytic-like effects of the treatment. The current study demonstrated that the chronic treatment with sildenafil, alone or in combination with atropine, exhibit an anxiolytic-like action in stress-sensitive rats. In addition, the data support the clinical potential of using PDE5 inhibitors as antidepressant and anxiolytic strategy and warrant further investigation. Furthermore the study supports the previously proposed key role of the glutamate/NO/cGMP pathway in the neurobiology of anxiety-like disorders, and as an important target for drug development.
- Health Sciences