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J Psychiatr Res. 2014 Jan;48(1):16-24. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2013.10.014. Epub 2013 Oct 29.

Antidepressant-like effect of ascorbic acid is associated with the modulation of mammalian target of rapamycin pathway.

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


The present study investigated the involvement of the PI3K, GSK-3β, heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) and mTOR in the antidepressant-like effect of ascorbic acid in the tail suspension test (TST). Male Swiss mice were pretreated with ascorbic acid (1 mg/kg, p.o.) or vehicle and 45 min after, LY294002 (10 μg/site, i.c.v., reversible PI3K inhibitor), rapamycin (0.2 nmol/site, i.c.v., selective mTOR inhibitor), zinc protoporphyrin (ZnPP - 10 ng/site, i.c.v., HO-1 inhibitor) or vehicle was administered. We also investigated the synergistic effect of ascorbic acid (0.1 mg/kg, p.o., sub-effective dose in the TST) with lithium chloride (10 mg/kg, p.o., non-selective GSK-3β inhibitor), AR-A014418 (0.01 μg/site, i.c.v., selective GSK-3β inhibitor) or cobalt protoporphyrin (CoPP - 0.01 μg/site, i.c.v., HO-1 inducer) in the TST. The antidepressant-like effect of ascorbic acid (1 mg/kg, p.o.) was prevented by the treatment of mice with LY294002, rapamycin or ZnPP. In addition, sub-effective doses of lithium chloride, AR-A014418 or CoPP, combined with a sub-effective dose of ascorbic acid produced a synergistic antidepressant-like effect. We also demonstrated that 1 h after its administration, ascorbic acid increased the phosphorylation of p70S6K and the immunocontent of PSD-95 in the hippocampus of mice. These results indicate that the antidepressant-like effect of ascorbic acid in the TST might be dependent on the activation of PI3K and mTOR, inhibition of GSK-3β as well as induction of HO-1, reinforcing the notion that these are important targets for antidepressant activity and contributing to better elucidate the mechanisms underlying the antidepressant-like effect of ascorbic acid.


Antidepressant; Ascorbic acid; Depression; GSK-3β; Heme-oxygenase; mTOR

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