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Brain Res Bull. 2006 Feb 15;68(6):425-9. Epub 2005 Oct 12.

Melatonin receptor (MT1) knockout mice display depression-like behaviors and deficits in sensorimotor gating.

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  • 1Departments of Neuroscience and Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research, The Ohio State University, 09 Townshend Hall, Columbus, OH 43210, USA. Weil.20@osu.edu


Although critical for transducing seasonal information, melatonin has also been implicated in several physiological systems, as well as the regulation of behavioral and cognitive processes. Therefore, we investigated the neurobehavioral effects of mice missing the type 1 melatonin receptor (MT1). Male and female MT1 knockout (MT1-/-) and wild-type (WT) mice were tested in the acoustic startle/prepulse inhibition (PPI), open field and Porsolt forced swim tests. Male and female MT1-/- mice displayed dramatically impaired prepulse inhibition in the acoustic startle response. Female WT mice were more active in the open field than WT males. However, male and female MT1-/- mice did not differ in total locomotor activity. WT animals spent significantly more time in the center of the arena (a behavioral outcome associated with reduced anxiety-like behavior) than MT1-/- mice. Also, the sex difference between male and female WT mice in the amount of time spent in the center versus periphery was not observed among MT1-/- mice. Both male and female MT1-/- mice significantly increased the time spent immobile in the forced swim test, an indication of depressed-like behavior. The lifetime lack of MT1 signaling contributes to behavioral abnormalities including impairments in sensorimotor gating and increases in depressive-like behaviors. Taken together, MT1 receptor signaling may be important for normal brain and behavioral function.

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