Increased stress-evoked nitric oxide signalling in the Flinders sensitive line (FSL) rat: a genetic animal model of depression
Harvey, Brian H.
Müller, Heidi K.
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Stress engenders the precipitation and progression of affective disorders, while stress-related release of excitatory mediators is implicated in the degenerative pathology observed especially in the hippocampus of patients with severe depression. Nitric oxide (NO) release following stress-evoked N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor activation modulates neurotransmission, cellular memory and neuronal toxicity. We have investigated the Flinders rat (FSL/FRL), a genetic animal model of depression, regarding the response of the hippocampal nitrergic system following exposure to an escapable stress/inescapable stress (ES-IS) paradigm. Hippocampal tissue from naive FSL/FRL rats and those exposed to ES-IS were studied with respect to constitutive nitric oxide synthase (cNOS) activity and neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) protein levels, as well as transcript expression of upstream regulatory proteins in the NMDA-NO signalling pathway, including NMDAR1, nNOS, CAPON, PIN and PSD95. Within stress-naive animals, no differences in hippocampal cNOS activity and nNOS expression or PIN were evident in FSL and FRL rats, although transcripts for NMDAR1 and CAPON were increased in FSL rats. Within the group of ES-IS animals, we found an increase in total hippocampal cNOS activity, nNOS protein levels and mRNA expression in FSL vs. FRL rats, together with an increase in PSD95 transcripts, and a reduction in PIN. In conclusion, ES-IS enhanced hippocampal cNOS activity in FSL rats, but not FRL rats, confirming the NMDA-NO cascade as an important vulnerability factor in the depressive phenotype of the FSL rat.