Adolescent Chronic Restraint Stress (aCRS) Elicits Robust Depressive-Like Behavior in Freely Cycling, Adult Female Rats Without Increasing Anxiety-Like Behaviors

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Abstract

Stress during times of rapid development is a risk factor for Major Depressive Disorder, a mood disorder that disproportionately affects women. We developed an adolescent chronic restraint stress (aCRS) protocol using female rats to address the impact of adolescent stress on female adult depressive-like behavior. Animals were divided into 4 treatment groups: not restrained:saline (NRSAL), not restrained:desipramine (NRDES), restrained:saline (RSAL), and restrained:desipramine (RDES). NRSAL and NRDES rats were housed in a separate colony room from RSAL and RDES rats. All animals were weighed and handled daily. Beginning postnatal day (PND) 34(±1), RSAL and RDES rats were restrained for 1 hour daily for 14 consecutive days. Beginning PND 55(±1), NRDES and RDES rats were given subcutaneous desipramine (5 mg/kg), which served as a positive control, daily for 14 consecutive days. During that same time period, NRSAL and RSAL rats were given subcutaneous saline daily. aCRS (RSAL and RDES) rats showed significantly attenuated weight gain compared with nonrestrained (NRSAL and NRDES) rats during the restraint period. Weight gain normalized after the final restraint session. Behavioral testing took place PND 68–69(±1), and included open field testing, the elevated plus maze, locomotor activity, and the forced swim test (FST). RSAL rats showed significantly more immobility in the FST versus all other groups, indicating depressive-like behavior. No differences between groups were observed in the other behavioral measures. These results indicate that aCRS elicits depressive-like behavioral characteristics in adult female rats without increasing anxiety-like behaviors.

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