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Differences in anxiety-like behavior within a batch of wistar rats are associated with differences in serotonergic transmission, enhanced by acute sri administration, and abolished by serotonin depletion

Journal article
Authors Jakob Näslund
Erik Studer
Robert Pettersson
S Melker Hagsäter
Staffan Nilsson
Hans Nissbrandt
Elias Eriksson
Published in International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology
Volume 18
Issue 8
Pages 1-9
ISSN 1461-1457
Publication year 2015
Published at Department of Mathematical Sciences, Mathematical Statistics
Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Pharmacology
Pages 1-9
Language en
Keywords Anxiety, Elevated Plus Maze, Serotonin, Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, Tryptophan Hydroxylase 2
Subject categories Pharmacology and Toxicology


Background: The anxiety-reducing effect of long-term administration of serotonin reuptake inhibitors is usually seen only in subjects with anxiety disorders, and such patients are also abnormally inclined to experience a paradoxical anxietyenhancing effect of acute serotonin reuptake inhibition. These unique responses to serotonin reuptake inhibitors in anxietyprone subjects suggest, as do genetic association studies, that inter-individual differences in anxiety may be associated with differences in serotonergic transmission. Methods: The one-third of the animals within a batch of Wistar rats most inclined to spend time on open arms in the elevated plus maze were compared with the one-third most inclined to avoid them with respect to indices of brain serotonergic transmission and how their behavior was influenced by serotonin-modulating drugs. Results: "Anxious" rats displayed higher expression of the tryptophan hydroxylase-2 gene and higher levels of the tryptophan hydroxylase-2 protein in raphe and also higher levels of serotonin in amygdala. Supporting these differences to be important for the behavioral differences, serotonin depletion obtained by the tryptophan hydroxylase-2 inhibitor p-chlorophenylalanine eliminated them by reducing anxiety in "anxious" but not "non-anxious" rats. Acute administration of a serotonin reuptake inhibitor, paroxetine, exerted an anxiety-enhancing effect in "anxious" but not "non-anxious" rats, which was eliminated by long-term pretreatment with another serotonin reuptake inhibitor, escitalopram. Conclusions: Differences in an anxiogenic impact of serotonin, which is enhanced by acute serotonin reuptake inhibitor administration, may contribute to differences in anxiety-like behavior amongst Wistar rats..

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