Zinc deficiency induces enhanced depression-like behaviour and altered limbic activation reversed by antidepressant treatment in mice

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A relationship between zinc (Zn)-deficiency and mood disorders has been suspected. Here we examined for the first time whether experimentally-induced Zn-deficiency in mice would alter depression- and anxiety-related behaviour assessed in established tests and whether these alterations would be sensitive to antidepressant treatment. Mice receiving a Zn-deficient diet (40% of daily requirement) had similar homecage and open field activity compared to normally fed mice, but displayed enhanced depression-like behaviour in both the forced swim and tail suspension tests which was reversed by chronic desipramine treatment. An anxiogenic effect of Zn-deficiency prevented by chronic desipramine and Hypericum perforatum treatment was observed in the novelty suppressed feeding test, but not in other anxiety tests performed. Zn-deficient mice showed exaggerated stress-evoked immediate-early gene expression in the amygdala which was normalised following DMI treatment. Taken together these data support the link between low Zn levels and depression-like behaviour and suggest experimentally-induced Zn deficiency as a putative model of depression in mice.

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