Is there an association between hypercholesterolemia and depression? Behavioral evidence from the LDLr−/− mouse experimental model

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Although epidemiological studies have reported an association between hypercholesterolemia and mood disorders, there is a lack of data regarding depressive-like behavior in animal models of hypercholesterolemia. To address these questions, we assessed depressive-like behavior and hippocampal and cortical monoaminergic metabolism in three-month-old, low-density lipoprotein receptor knockout (LDLr–/–) and C57BL/6 wild-type mice. The LDLr–/– mice exhibited depressive-like behavior in the sucrose preference test, splash test, and tail suspension test. Increased monoamine oxidase (MAO) A and B activity was evidenced in the hippocampus of LDLr–/– mice. Furthermore, to address whether or not cholesterol modulates MAO activity, we exposed SH-SY5Y human neuroblastoma cells to human isolated low-density lipoprotein (LDL). Notably, LDL increased the activity of MAO-A and stimulated the reactive species generation in vitro. These findings indicate that depressive-like behavior in hypercholesterolemic mice is accompanied by alterations in the monoaminergic metabolism, providing new evidence about the association between hypercholesterolemia and depression.

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