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Neuroscience. 2014 Jul 11;272:252-60. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2014.04.069. Epub 2014 May 9.

Attenuated orexinergic signaling underlies depression-like responses induced by daytime light deficiency.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA.
2
Department of Psychology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA; Neuroscience Program, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA.
3
Department of Psychology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA; Neuroscience Program, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA. Electronic address: yanl@msu.edu.

Abstract

Light has profound effects on mood, as exemplified by seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and the beneficial effects of bright light therapy. However, the underlying neural pathways through which light regulates mood are not well understood. Our previous work has developed the diurnal grass rat, Arvicanthis niloticus, as an animal model of SAD (Leach et al., 2013a,b). By utilizing a 12:12-h dim light:dark (DLD) paradigm that simulates the lower light intensity of winter, we showed that the animals housed in DLD exhibited increased depression-like behaviors in the forced swim test (FST) and sweet solution preference (SSP) compared to animals housed in bright light during the day (BLD). The objective of the present study was to test the hypothesis that light affects mood by acting on the brain orexinergic system in the diurnal grass rat model of SAD. First, orexin A immunoreactivity (OXA-ir) was examined in DLD and BLD grass rats. Results revealed a reduction in the number of OXA-ir neurons in the hypothalamus and attenuated OXA-ir fiber density in the dorsal raphe nucleus of animals in the DLD compared to those in the BLD group. Then, the animals in BLD were treated systemically with SB-334867, a selective orexin 1 receptor (OX1R) antagonist, which led to a depressive phenotype characterized by increased immobility in the FST and a decrease in SSP compared to vehicle-treated controls. Results suggest that attenuated orexinergic signaling is associated with increased depression-like behaviors in grass rats, and support the hypothesis that the orexinergic system mediates the effects of light on mood.

KEYWORDS:

SB-334867; diurnal grass rats; orexin; seasonal affective disorder

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