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Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2000 Apr;65(4):649-53.

The anxiolytic-like properties of two selective MAOIs, moclobemide and selegiline, in a standard and an enhanced light/dark aversion test.

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Department of Biomedical Sciences, via Giorgeri 7, University of, Trieste, Italy.


The present study was designed to investigate the putative anxiolytic effects of moclobemide (MOC), a reversible inhibitor of type A monoamine oxidase enzyme (RIMA) antidepressant, in an experimental model of anxiety in mice. The test selected was the light/dark aversion test. In the present investigation, an anxiogenic-like behavior was induced by light, alone as the stimulus (standard version of the test) or by pretreatment with a subconvulsant dose of pentylenetetrazole (PTZ) (15 mg/kg IP) 45 min before testing ("enhanced" version of the test). In mice, the effect of repeated administration for 2 weeks of MOC (0.5, 1, and 5 mg/kg IP) was compared with those of selegiline (SEL) (5, 10, and 20 mg/kg IP), an irreversible and selective MAO-B inhibitor. For comparative purpose, the chronic effect of an established reference anxiolytic, such as lorazepam (LOR) (0.025, 0.05, and 0.10 mg/kg IP), was also evaluated. Results demonstrated that PTZ-treated mice showed a decrease in the number of transitions as well as in the time spent in the lit area, when compared with vehicle controls, an effect characteristic of an anxiogenic response. This anxiogenic-like behavior was reduced by chronic administration of LOR as well as MOC, suggesting an anxiolytic-like effect (as shown in the "standard" version of the test). In addition, the increased aversion of mice for the light compartment of the light/dark box was significantly reduced compared to PTZ-treated mice or vehicle controls. SEL failed to significantly alter the anxiogenic-like behavior induced by subconvulsant doses of PTZ. These data provide additional evidence for the anxiolytic-like effects of MOC administered chronically in the mouse.

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