Biochemical and behaviour changes induced by acute stress in a chronic variate stress model of depression: the effect of amitriptyline

Author(s): Ferretti C, Blengio M, Gamalero SR, Ghi P


This paper examines the biochemical and behaviour changes induced by an acute stress (five 10-s, 1-mA foot-shocks) in three groups of rats: (1) never stressed, (2) subjected to chronic variate stress for 20 days, (3) subjected to the same chronic stress and treated with 5 mg/kg per day amitriptyline. After 15 min, acute stress led to a marked reduction in cortical beta-adrenoceptor and 5-HT2 receptor density, whereas the density of the 5-HT1A receptors was unchanged. Chronic stress also increased beta-adrenoceptor and 5-HT2 receptor density and had no effect on 5-HT1A. Acute stress diminished the density of beta-adrenoceptors in chronically stressed animals, but did not alter that of the two 5-HT populations. Amitriptyline alone reduced beta-adrenoceptor and 5-HT2 receptor densities only. Acute stress applied to animals treated with amitriptyline reduced 5-HT1A receptors, and caused a further beta-adrenoceptor decrease, but had no further effect on the 5-HT2 receptors. On behaviour, chronic stress diminished reactivity to the acute stress. This reduction was fully abolished by amitriptyline. An open-field study showed that acute stress reduced motor activity, increased latency times and diminished rearing in the controls, whereas chronic stress reduced motor activity only. No significant changes in behaviour were induced by the acute stress in animals subjected to chronic stress. The combination of chronic stress with amitriptyline was accompanied by a diminution of exploratory activity that persisted after the acute stress.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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