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Brain Res Bull. 2007 Sep 14;74(1-3):58-65. Epub 2007 May 30.

Involvement of dopamine (DA)/serotonin (5-HT)/sigma (sigma) receptor modulation in mediating the antidepressant action of ropinirole hydrochloride, a D2/D3 dopamine receptor agonist.

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Pharmacology Division, University Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Panjab University, Chandigarh-160014, India.


Multiple lines of investigation have explored the role of dopaminergic systems in mental depression. Chronic treatment with antidepressant drugs has been reported to alter dopaminergic neurotransmission, most notably a sensitization of behavioural responses to agonists acting at D2/D3 dopamine receptors within the nucleus accumbens. Recent clinical evidences have shown that ropinirole, a D2/D3 dopamine receptor agonist, augments the action of various standard antidepressant drugs in treatment-resistant depression. The present study was undertaken to elucidate the possible mechanism of antidepressant action of ropinirole employing various behavioral paradigms of despair supported by the measurements of neurochemical changes in the tissue contents of dopamine (DA) and serotonin (5-HT) in the whole brain using high-performance-liquid chromatography (HPLC) with electrochemical detectors (ECD). In the mouse forced swim test (FST) or tail-suspension test (TST), ropinirole (1-10 mg/kg, i.p.) produced S-shaped dose-response curve in the percentage decrease in immobility period. Compared with vehicle, ropinirole (10 mg/kg., i.p.) had a significant anti-immobility effect without affecting locomotor activity. The reduction in the immobility period elicited by ropinirole (10 mg/kg, i.p.) in the FST was reversed by dopaminergic and sigma receptor antagonist, haloperidol (0.5 mg/kg, i.p.), and specific D2 dopamine receptor antagonist sulpiride (5 mg/kg i.p.), but not by SCH 23390 (0.5 mg/kg i.p), a D1 dopamine receptor antagonist. Rimcazole (5 mg/kg i.p.) (a sigma receptor antagonist), progesterone (10 mg/kg i.p.) (a sigma receptor antagonistic neurosteroid), BD 1047 (1 mg/kg i.p.) (a novel sigma receptor antagonist with preferential affinity for sigma-1 sites) also reversed the anti-immobility effect of ropinirole (10 mg/kg i.p.). The neurochemical studies of whole brain revealed that ropinirole at 10 mg/kg i.p. did not affect the tissue levels of dopamine but significantly increased serotonin levels. The study indicated that ropinirole possessed anti-immobility activity in FST by altering dopaminergic, serotonergic or sigma receptor function.

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