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Behav Pharmacol. 2012 Apr;23(2):171-7. doi: 10.1097/FBP.0b013e3283512c3a.

AMPA glutamate receptors mediate the antidepressant-like effects of N-acetylcysteine in the mouse tail suspension test.

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Ethnopharmacology Laboratory, Pharmacology Department, Basic Health Science Institute, Federal University of the Rio Grande do Sul State, Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil.


The aim of this study was to investigate the involvement of noradrenaline, serotonin, and subtypes of glutamate receptors in the antidepressant-like effects of N-acetylcysteine (NAC). The tail suspension test was used with male CF1 albino mice. D,L-α-methyl-ρ-tyrosine and ρ-chlorophenylalanine methyl ester hydrochloride were used as synthesis inhibitors of noradrenaline and serotonin, respectively. N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) and 2,3-dihydroxy-6-nitro-7-sulfamoyl-benzo[f]quinoxaline-2,3-dione were used as an NMDA receptor agonist and an α-amino acid-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazol propionic acid (AMPA) receptor antagonist, respectively. NAC (10, 25, and 50 mg/kg intraperitoneally) significantly (P<0.05) decreased tail suspension test immobility time, whereas pretreatment with D,L-α-methyl-ρ-tyrosine, ρ-chlorophenylalanine methyl ester hydrochloride, and NMDA partially prevented (P<0.05) the effects of NAC (25 mg/kg), and pretreatment with 2,3-dihydroxy-6-nitro-7-sulfamoyl-benzo[f]quinoxaline-2,3-dione completely abolished (P<0.01) this effect. The study corroborates the antidepressant-like effects of NAC in the TST, a model with a well-established predictive value. The results point to the key role of AMPA receptors in the mechanism of the antidepressant-like action of NAC. Like other AMPA potentiators, NAC indirectly modulates noradrenaline and serotonin pathways. It is suggested that the value of NAC as an antidepressant arises from combined and intertwined effects on a variety of pathways.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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