Participation of hippocampal nitric oxide synthase and soluble guanylate cyclase in the modulation of behavioral responses elicited by the rat forced swimming test

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Systemic or hippocampal administration of nitric oxide (NO) synthase inhibitors induces antidepressant-like effects in animals, implicating increased hippocampal levels of NO in the neurobiology of depression. However, the role played by different NO synthase in this process has not been clearly defined. As stress is able to induce neuroinflammatory mechanisms and trigger the expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) in the brain, as well as upregulate neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) activity, the aim of the present study was to investigate the possible differential contribution of hippocampal iNOS and nNOS in the modulation of the consequences of stress elicited by the forced swimming test. Male Wistar rats received intrahippocampal injections, immediately after the pretest or 1 h before the forced swimming test, of selective inhibitors of nNOS (Nω-propyl-L-arginine), iNOS (1400W), or sGC (ODQ), the main pharmacological target for NO. Stress exposure increased nNOS and phospho-nNOS levels at all time points, whereas iNOS expression was increased only 24 h after the pretest. All drugs induced an antidepressant-like effect. However, whereas the nNOS inhibitor was equally effective when injected at different times, the iNOS inhibitor was more effective 24 h after the pretest. These results suggest that hippocampal nNOS and iNOS contribute to increase in NO levels in response to stress, although with a differential time course after stress exposure.

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