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Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2010 Nov;20(11):793-801. doi: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2010.07.011.

Involvement of NMDA receptors and L-arginine-nitric oxide-cyclic guanosine monophosphate pathway in the antidepressant-like effects of escitalopram in the forced swimming test.

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Departamento de Bioquímica, Centro de Ciências Biológicas, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina,Florianopolis, 88040-900, SC, Brazil.


Escitalopram is a serotonin reuptake inhibitor used in the treatment of depression and anxiety disorders. This study investigated the effect of escitalopram in forced swimming test (FST) and in the tail suspension test (TST) in mice, and tested the hypothesis that the inhibition of NMDA receptors and NO-cGMP synthesis is implicated in its mechanism of action in the FST. Escitalopram administered by i.p. route reduced the immobility time both in the FST (0.3-10 mg/kg) and in the TST (0.1-10 mg/kg). Administration of escitalopram by p.o route (0.3-10 mg/kg) also reduced the immobility time in the FST. The antidepressant-like effect of escitalopram (3mg/kg, p.o.) in the FST was prevented by the pretreatment of mice with NMDA (0.1 pmol/site, i.c.v.), l-arginine (750 mg/kg, i.p., a substrate for nitric oxide synthase) or sildenafil (5mg/kg, i.p., a phosphodiesterase 5 inhibitor). The administration of 7-nitroindazole (50 mg/kg, i.p., a neuronal nitric oxide synthase inhibitor), methylene blue (20 mg/kg, i.p., an inhibitor of both nitric oxide synthase and soluble guanylate cyclase) or ODQ (30 pmol/site i.c.v., a soluble guanylate cyclase inhibitor) in combination with a subeffective dose of escitalopram (0.1 mg/kg, p.o.) reduced the immobility time in the FST as compared with either drug alone. None of the drugs produced significant effects on the locomotor activity in the open-field test. Altogether, our data suggest that the antidepressant-like effect of escitalopram is dependent on inhibition of either NMDA receptors or NO-cGMP synthesis. The results contribute to the understanding of the mechanisms underlying the antidepressant-like effect of escitalopram and reinforce the role of NMDA receptors and l-arginine-NO-GMP pathway in the mechanism of action of antidepressant agents.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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