Behavioural and neurochemical features of olfactory bulbectomized rats resembling depression with comorbid anxiety

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In order to probe the nature and validity of olfactory bulbectomized (OB) rats as a model of depression, we reevaluated their behavioural and neurochemical deficits in relation to the symptoms and neurochemical abnormalities of depression using our protocols, which distinguish anhedonia-resembling behaviour in sexual behavioural test, the hippocampus (Hip)-dependent long-term memory and anxiety-resembling behaviour specially. Besides exploratory hyperactivity in response to a novel environmental stress resembling the psychomotor agitation, OB rats showed a decrease of libido, and a deficit of long-term explicit memory, resembling loss of interest and cognitive deficits in depressive patients, respectively. OB rats also exhibited the anxiety symptom-resembling behaviour in social interaction and plus-maze tests. In the OB rats, we found degenerated neurons in the piriform cortex, decreased protein expression of NMDA receptor subunit 1 (NR1), but not NR2A or NR2B, in the prefrontal cortex (PFC), Hip and amygdala (Amg), and decreased phosphorylation of cAMP-response element-binding protein (CREB) in the PFC and Hip, but not Amg. The behavioural and neurochemical abnormalities in OB rats, except for the performance in the plus-maze task and neuronal degeneration, were significantly attenuated by repeated treatment with desipramine (10 mg/kg), a typical antidepressant. The present study indicated that OB rats may be a model of depression with comorbid anxiety, characterized by agitation, sexual and cognitive dysfunction, neuronal degeneration, decreased protein expression of NR1, and decreased phosphorylation of CREB.

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