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Brain Res. 2009 Aug 18;1285:148-57. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2009.06.035. Epub 2009 Jun 18.

alpha(1A)- and alpha(1B)-adrenergic receptors differentially modulate antidepressant-like behavior in the mouse.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Therapeutics, University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Grand Forks, ND 58202, USA.


Tricyclic antidepressant (TCA) drugs are used for the treatment of chronic depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and anxiety-related disorders. Chronic use of TCA drugs increases the expression of alpha(1)-adrenergic receptors (alpha(1)-ARs). Yet, it is unclear whether increased alpha(1)-AR expression contributes to the antidepressant effects of these drugs or if this effect is unrelated to their therapeutic benefit. In this study, mice expressing constitutively active mutant alpha(1A)-ARs (CAM alpha(1A)-AR) or CAM alpha(1B)-ARs were used to examine the effects of alpha(1A)- and alpha(1B)-AR signaling on rodent behavioral models of depression, OCD, and anxiety. CAM alpha(1A)-AR mice, but not CAM alpha(1B)-AR mice, exhibited antidepressant-like behavior in the tail suspension test and forced swim test. This behavior was reversed by prazosin, a selective alpha(1)-AR inverse agonist, and mimicked by chronically treating wild type mice with cirazoline, an alpha(1A)-AR agonist. Marble burying behavior, commonly used to model OCD in rodents, was significantly decreased in CAM alpha(1A)-AR mice but not in CAM alpha(1B)-AR mice. In contrast, no significant differences in anxiety-related behavior were observed between wild type, CAM alpha(1A)-AR, and CAM alpha(1B)-AR animals in the elevated plus maze and light/dark box. This is the first study to demonstrate that alpha(1A)- and alpha(1B)-ARs differentially modulate antidepressant-like behavior in the mouse. These data suggest that alpha(1A)-ARs may be a useful therapeutic target for the treatment of depression.

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