Quetiapine treatment reverses depressive-like behavior and reduces DNA methyltransferase activity induced by maternal deprivation

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Stress in early life has been appointed as an important phenomenon in the onset of depression and poor response to treatment with classical antidepressants. Furthermore, childhood trauma triggers epigenetic changes, which are associated with the pathophysiology of major depressive disorder (MDD). Treatment with atypical antipsychotics such as quetiapine, exerts therapeutic effect for MDD patients and induces epigenetic changes. This study aimed to analyze the effect of chronic treatment with quetiapine (20 mg/kg) on depressive-like behavior of rats submitted to maternal deprivation (MD), as well as the activity of histone acetylation by the enzymes histone acetyl transferases (HAT) and deacetylases (HDAC) and DNA methylation, through DNA methyltransferase enzyme (DNMT) in the prefrontal cortex (PFC), nucleus accumbens (NAc) and hippocampus. Maternally deprived rats had a depressive-like behavior in the forced swimming test and an increase in the HDAC and DNMT activities in the hippocampus and NAc. Treatment with quetiapine reversed depressive-like behavior and reduced the DNMT activity in the hippocampus. This is the first study to show the antidepressant-like effect of quetiapine in animals subjected to MD and a protective effect by quetiapine in reducing epigenetic changes induced by stress in early life. These results reinforce an important role of quetiapine as therapy for MDD.

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