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PLoS One. 2013 Dec 2;8(12):e80980. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0080980. eCollection 2013.

Chronic clomipramine treatment reverses core symptom of depression in subordinate tree shrews.

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  • 1Key Laboratory of Animal Models and Human Disease Mechanisms of Chinese Academy of Science & Yunnan Province, and Laboratory of Learning and Memory, Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming, Yunnan, China ; KIZ/CUHK Joint Laboratory of Bioresources and Molecular Research in Common Diseases, Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming, Yunnan, China ; Kunming College of Life Science, University of Chinese Academy of Science, Beijing, China.

Abstract

Chronic stress is the major cause of clinical depression. The behavioral signs of depression, including anhedonia, learning and memory deficits, and sleep disruption, result from the damaging effects of stress hormones on specific neural pathways. The Chinese tree shrew (Tupaia belangeri chinensis) is an aggressive non-human primate with a hierarchical social structure that has become a well-established model of the behavioral, endocrine, and neurobiological changes associated with stress-induced depression. The tricyclic antidepressant clomipramine treats many of the core symptoms of depression in humans. To further test the validity of the tree shrew model of depression, we examined the effects of clomipramine on depression-like behaviors and physiological stress responses induced by social defeat in subordinate tree shrews. Social defeat led to weight loss, anhedonia (as measured by sucrose preference), unstable fluctuations in locomotor activity, sustained urinary cortisol elevation, irregular cortisol rhythms, and deficient hippocampal long-term potentiation (LTP). Clomipramine ameliorated anhedonia and irregular locomotor activity, and partially rescued the irregular cortisol rhythm. In contrast, weight loss increased, cortisol levels were even higher, and in vitro LTP was still impaired in the clomipramine treatment group. These results demonstrate the unique advantage of the tree shrew social defeat model of depression.

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