Depression and anxiety are two of the most common mental health disorders, often sharing symptoms and administrations. Most pharmacological agents available to treat these disorders target monoamine systems. Currently, finding the most effective treatment for an individual is a process of trial and error. Therefore, to better understand how disease etiology may predict treatment response, we studied mice exposed developmentally to the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) fluoxetine (FLX). These mice show the murine equivalent of anxiety- and depression-like symptoms in adulthood and here we report that these mice are also behaviorally resistant to the antidepressant-like effects of adult SSRI administration. We investigated whether tianeptine (TIA), which exerts its therapeutic effects through the mu-opioid receptor (MOR) instead of directly targeting monoaminergic systems, would be more effective in this model. We injected C57BL/6J (C57) pups with either FLX (10 mg/kg, i.p) or vehicle from postnatal (PN) day 2 to 11, a period in which mouse brain development parallels that of the third trimester of a human pregnancy. Prior work established that adult 129SvEv (129) mice exposed to FLX in this time period (PN-FLX) showed increased avoidant and decreased hedonic behaviors, which correspond to anxiety- and depressive-like symptoms in humans, respectively. We performed baseline testing in adulthood in C57 PN-FLX animals and confirmed a similar avoidant phenotype to that reported in 129 PN-FLX mice. We then treated these animals with chronic FLX (18 mg/kg in the drinking water) and evaluated effects on two tasks that measure avoidant behavior, the open field and novelty suppressed feeding (NSF) tasks. This administration failed to improve, and even exacerbated, avoidance symptoms in PN-FLX mice. The same animals then underwent chronic administration with TIA (30 mg/kg, 2x/day, i.p.) as an alternative treatment strategy. TIA administration decreased avoidance behavior as measured in the open field and NSF. Overall, this demonstrates that TIA may be a promising alternative treatment to typical antidepressants, especially in patients whose serotonergic system has been altered.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience