Early postnatal treatment with clomipramine induces female sexual behavior and estrous cycle impairment

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Abstract

Administration of clomipramine (CMI), a tricyclic antidepressant, in early stages of development in rats, is considered an animal model for the study of depression. This pharmacological manipulation has induced behavioral and physiological alterations, i.e., less pleasure-seeking behaviors, despair, hyperactivity, cognitive dysfunction, alterations in neurotransmitter systems and in HPA axis. These abnormalities in adult male rats are similar to the symptoms observed in major depressive disorders. One of the main pleasure-seeking behaviors affected in male rats treated with CMI is sexual behavior. However, to date, no effects of early postnatal CMI treatment have been reported on female reproductive cyclicity and sexual behavior. Therefore, we explored CMI administration in early life (8–21 PN) on the estrous cycle and sexual behavior of adult female rats. Compared to the rats in the early postnatal saline treatment (CTRL group), the CMI rats had fewer estrous cycles, fewer days in the estrous stage, and longer cycles during a 20-day period of vaginal cytology analysis. On the behavioral test, the CMI rats displayed fewer proceptive behaviors (hopping, darting) and had lower lordosis quotients. Also, they usually failed to display lordosis and only rarely manifested marginal or normal lordosis. In contrast, the CTRL rats tended to display normal lordosis. These results suggest that early postnatal CMI treatment caused long-term disruptions of the estrous cycle and female sexual behavior, perhaps by alteration in the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axes and in neuronal circuits involved in the regulation of the performance and motivational of sexual behavior as the noradrenergic and serotonergic systems.

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