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Accumulating evidence from preclinical and clinical studies indicates that prenatal exposure to stress impairs the development of the offspring brain and facilitates the emergence of mental illness. This study aims to describe the impact of prenatal restraint stress on cognition and exploration to an unfamiliar environment at adulthood in an outbred strain of mice.
Late pregnant mice were exposed to restraint stress and adult offspring (60 days of age) behaviours were assessed in the object recognition task and open field test.
Prenatal stress (PNS) impaired new object recognition in male and female mice. Importantly, the learning deficits in female PNS mice were linked to their estrous cycle. Actually, PNS females in metestrus/diestrus but not in proestrus/estrus phases displayed recognition deficits compared to controls. Concerning locomotion in an unfamiliar environment, male but not female PNS mice displayed significant increase, but showed no differences in the distance travelled within the centre zone of the arena.
Present findings support the view that maternal restraint-stress during late pregnancy impairs recognition memory in both male and female offspring, and in females, this cognitive deficit is dependent on the estrous cycle phase. Ultimately, these data reinforce that PNS is an aetiological component of psychiatric disorders associated with memory deficits.
Recent open-label trials show that psychedelics, such as ayahuasca, hold promise as fast-onset antidepressants in treatment-resistant depression.
To test the antidepressant effects of ayahuasca, we conducted a parallel-arm, double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial in 29 patients with treatment-resistant depression. Patients received a single dose of either ayahuasca or placebo. We assessed changes in depression severity with the Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) and the Hamilton Depression Rating scale at baseline, and at 1 (D1), 2 (D2), and 7 (D7) days after dosing.
We observed significant antidepressant effects of ayahuasca when compared with placebo at all-time points. MADRS scores were significantly lower in the ayahuasca group compared with placebo at D1 and D2 (p = 0.04), and at D7 (p < 0.0001). Between-group effect sizes increased from D1 to D7 (D1: Cohen's d = 0.84; D2: Cohen's d = 0.84; D7: Cohen's d = 1.49). Response rates were high for both groups at D1 and D2, and significantly higher in the ayahuasca group at D7 (64% v. 27%; p = 0.04). Remission rate showed a trend toward significance at D7 (36% v. 7%, p = 0.054).
To our knowledge, this is the first controlled trial to test a psychedelic substance in treatment-resistant depression. Overall, this study brings new evidence supporting the safety and therapeutic value of ayahuasca, dosed within an appropriate setting, to help treat depression. This study is registered at http://clinicaltrials.gov (NCT02914769).
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