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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 Apr 30;99(9):6370-5. Epub 2002 Apr 16.

Anxiolytic- and antidepressant-like effects of the non-peptide vasopressin V1b receptor antagonist, SSR149415, suggest an innovative approach for the treatment of stress-related disorders.

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Sanofi-Synthelabo Recherche, Avenue P. V.-Couturier, 92220 Bagneux, France.


The limbic localization of the arginine vasopressin V(1b) receptor has prompted speculation as to a potential role of this receptor in the control of emotional processes. To investigate this possibility, we have studied the behavioral effects of SSR149415, the first selective and orally active non-peptide antagonist of vasopressin V(1b) receptors, in a variety of classical (punished drinking, elevated plus-maze, and light/dark tests) and atypical (fear/anxiety defense test battery and social defeat-induced anxiety) rodent models of anxiety, and in two models of depression [forced swimming and chronic mild stress (CMS)]. When tested in classical tests of anxiety, SSR149415 produced anxiolytic-like activity at doses that ranged from 1 to 30 mg/kg (i.p. or p.o.), but the magnitude of these effects was overall less than that of the benzodiazepine anxiolytic diazepam, which was used as a positive control. In contrast, SSR149415 produced clear-cut anxiolytic-like activity in models involving traumatic stress exposure, such as the social defeat paradigm and the defense test battery (1-30 mg/kg, p.o.). In the forced swimming test, SSR149415 (10-30 mg/kg, p.o.) produced antidepressant-like effects in both normal and hypophysectomized rats. Moreover, in the CMS model in mice, repeated administration of SSR149415 (10 and 30 mg/kg, i.p.) for 39 days improved the degradation of the physical state, anxiety, despair, and the loss of coping behavior produced by stress. These findings point to a role for vasopressin in the modulation of emotional processes via the V(1b) receptor, and suggest that its blockade may represent a novel avenue for the treatment of affective disorders.

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