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Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2013 Oct 1;46:48-57. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2013.06.012. Epub 2013 Jun 28.

Antidepressant-like effect of α-tocopherol in a mouse model of depressive-like behavior induced by TNF-α.

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Department of Biochemistry, Center of Biological Sciences, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Florianópolis, 88040-900, SC, Brazil.


Taking into account that pro-inflammatory cytokines and oxidative and nitrosative stress are implicated in the pathogenesis of depression and that α-tocopherol has antidepressant, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, this study investigated the ability of α-tocopherol to abolish the depressive-like behavior induced by i.c.v. administration of TNF-α in the mouse TST. Additionally, we investigated the occurrence of changes in the levels of Bcl2 and Bax and phosphorylation of GSK-3β (Ser9) in the hippocampus of mice. The administration of TNF-α (0.001fg/site, i.c.v.) increased the immobility time in the TST, which was prevented by the administration of α-tocopherol at the doses of 10, 30 and 100mg/kg (p.o.). Subeffective doses of α-tocopherol (10mg/kg, p.o.) and/or the antidepressants fluoxetine (5mg/kg, p.o.), imipramine (0.1mg/kg, p.o.) and bupropion (1mg/kg, p.o.), the NMDA receptor antagonist MK-801 (0.001mg/kg, p.o.) or the neuronal nitric oxide synthase inhibitor 7-nitroindazole (25mg/kg, i.p.) prevented the depressive-like effect induced by TNF-α. None of the treatments altered the locomotor activity of mice. Treatment with TNF-α and/or α-tocopherol did not alter the levels of Bax and Bcl2 or the phosphorylation of GSK-3β in the hippocampus of mice. Together, our results show a synergistic antidepressant-like effect of α-tocopherol with antidepressants against the depressive-like behavior induced by an inflammatory insult, suggesting that this vitamin may be useful to optimize conventional pharmacotherapy of depression, including depressive states associated with inflammatory conditions.


Antidepressant; CNS; FST; GSK-3; IFN; IL; Inflammation; N-methyl-d-aspartate; NMDA; NO; O.D.; TNF-α; TST; Tail suspension test; central nervous system; forced swimming test; glycogen synthase kinase-3; i.c.v.; i.p.; interferon; interleukin; intracerebroventricular; intraperitoneal; nNOS; neuronal nitric oxide synthase; nitric oxide; optical density; p.o.; per oral; tail suspension test; tumor necrosis factor-α; α-Tocopherol

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