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Administration of cannabidiol and imipramine induces antidepressant-like effects in the forced swimming test and increases brain-derived neurotrophic factor levels in the rat amygdala

  • Gislaine Z. Réus (a1), Roberto B. Stringari (a1), Karine F. Ribeiro (a1), Tatiana Luft (a1), Helena M. Abelaira (a1), Gabriel R. Fries (a2), Bianca W. Aguiar (a2), Flávio Kapczinski (a2), Jaime E. Hallak (a3), Antônio W. Zuardi (a3), José A. Crippa (a3) and João Quevedo (a1)...


Réus GZ, Stringari RB, Ribeiro KF, Luft T, Abelaira HM, Fries GR, Aguiar BW, Kapczinski F, Hallak JE, Zuardi AW, Crippa JA, Quevedo J. Administration of cannabidiol and imipramine induces antidepressant-like effects in the forced swimming test and increases brain-derived neurotrophic factor levels in the rat amygdala.

Objective: Cannabidiol is a chemical constituent from Cannabis sativa and it has multiple mechanisms of action, including antidepressant effects. The main objective of the present study was to evaluate behavioural and molecular effects induced by administration of cannabidiol and imipramine in rats.

Methods: In the present study, rats were acutely or chronically treated for 14 days once a day with saline, cannabidiol (15, 30 and 60 mg/kg) or imipramine (30 mg/kg) and the animals behaviour was assessed in forced swimming and open-field tests. Afterwards, the prefrontal cortex, hippocampus and amygdala brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels were assessed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent sandwich assay.

Results: We observed that both acute and chronic treatments with imipramine at the dose of 30 mg/kg and cannabidiol at the dose of 30 mg/kg reduced immobility time and increased swimming time; climbing time was increased only with imipramine at the dose of 30 mg/kg, without affecting locomotor activity. In addition, chronic treatment with cannabidiol at the dose of 15 mg/kg and imipramine at the dose of 30 mg/kg increased BDNF levels in the rat amygdala.

Conclusion: In conclusion, our results indicate that cannabidiol has an antidepressant-like profile and could be a new pharmacological target for the treatment of major depression.


Corresponding author

Professor João Quevedo, MD, PhD, Laboratório de Neurociências, Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ciências da Saúde, Unidade Acadêmica de Ciências da Saúde, Universidade do Extremo Sul Catarinense, 88806-000 Criciúma, SC, Brazil. Tel: +554834312792; Fax: +554834312736; E-mail:


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