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Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) displays high co-morbidity with major depression and treatment-resistant depression (TRD). Earlier work demonstrated exaggerated depressive-like symptoms in a gene×environment model of TRD and an abrogated response to imipramine. We extended the investigation by studying the behavioural and monoaminergic response to multiple antidepressants, viz. venlafaxine and ketamine with/without imipramine.
Male Flinders sensitive line (FSL) rats, a genetic model of depression, were exposed to a time-dependent sensitisation (TDS) model of PTSD and compared with stress naive controls. 7 days after the TDS procedures, immobility and coping (swimming and climbing), behaviours in the forced swim test (FST) as well as hippocampal and cortical 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5HIAA) and noradrenaline (NA) levels were analysed. Response to imipramine, venlafaxine and ketamine treatment (all 10 mg/kg×7 days) alone and in combination were subsequently studied.
TDS exacerbated depressive-like behaviour of FSL rats in the FST. Imipramine, venlafaxine and ketamine were ineffective as monotherapy in TDS-exposed FSL rats. However, combining imipramine with either venlafaxine or ketamine resulted in significant anti-immobility effects and enhanced coping behaviours. Only ketamine+imipramine (frontal-cortical 5HIAA and NA), ketamine alone (frontal-cortical and hippocampal NA) and venlafaxine+imipramine (frontal-cortical NA) altered monoamine responses versus untreated TDS-exposed FSL rats.
Exposure of FSL rats to TDS inhibits antidepressant response at behavioural and neurochemical levels. Congruent with TRD, imipramine plus venlafaxine or ketamine overcame treatment resistance in these animals. These data further support the hypothesis that exposure of FSL rats to a PTSD-like paradigm produces a valid animal model of TRD and warrants further investigation.
Co-morbid depression with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is often treatment resistant. In developing a preclinical model of treatment-resistant depression (TRD), we combined animal models of depression and PTSD to produce an animal with more severe as well as treatment-resistant depressive-like behaviours.
Male Flinders sensitive line (FSL) rats, a genetic animal model of depression, were exposed to a stress re-stress model of PTSD [time-dependent sensitisation (TDS)] and compared with stress-naive controls. Seven days after TDS stress, depressive-like and coping behaviours as well as hippocampal and cortical noradrenaline (NA) and 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5HIAA) levels were analysed. Response to sub-chronic imipramine treatment (IMI; 10 mg/kg s.c.×7 days) was subsequently studied.
FSL rats demonstrated bio-behavioural characteristics of depression. Exposure to TDS stress in FSL rats correlated negatively with weight gain, while demonstrating reduced swimming behaviour and increased immobility versus unstressed FSL rats. IMI significantly reversed depressive-like (immobility) behaviour and enhanced active coping behaviour (swimming and climbing) in FSL rats. The latter was significantly attenuated in FSL rats exposed to TDS versus unstressed FSL rats. IMI reversed reduced 5HIAA levels in unstressed FSL rats, whereas exposure to TDS negated this effect. Lowered NA levels in FSL rats were sustained after TDS with IMI significantly reversing this in the hippocampus.
Combining a gene-X-environment model of depression with a PTSD paradigm produces exaggerated depressive-like symptoms that display an attenuated response to antidepressant treatment. This work confirms combining FSL rats with TDS exposure as a putative animal model of TRD.
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