Translocator protein mediates the anxiolytic and antidepressant effects of midazolam

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The translocator protein (18 kDa) (TSPO) plays an important role in stress-related disorders, such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), caused by neurosteroids (e.g. allopregnanolone). The present study sought to evaluate the significance of TSPO in anxiolytic and antidepressant effects induced by midazolam. The animals were administrated midazolam (0.25, 0.5 and 1 mg/kg, i.p.) and subjected to behavioral tests, including Vogel-type conflict test, elevated plus-maze test, forced swimming test. Midazolam produced anxiolytic- and antidepressant-like effects Vogel-type conflict test (1 mg/kg, i.p.), elevated plus-maze test (0.5 and 1 mg/kg, i.p.), and forced swimming test (0.5 and 1 mg/kg, i.p.). These effects of Midazolam were totally blocked by the TSPO antagonist PK11195 (3 mg/kg, i.p.). To evaluate the role of allopregnanolone in the anxiolytic- and antidepressant-like effects of midazolam, the animals were decapitated at the end of the behavioral tests. The allopregnanolone levels of the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The allopregnanolone level of the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus was increased by midazolam (0.5, 1 mg/kg, i.p.) and the increase was reversed by PK11195 (3 mg/kg, i.p.). Overall, the results indicated that the anxiolytic- and antidepressant-like effects of midazolam were mediated by TSPO, via stimulation of allopregnanolone biosynthesis.

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