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There is high clinical interest in improving the pharmacological treatment of individuals with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). This neuropsychiatric disorder continues to cause significant morbidity and mortality worldwide, where existing pharmaceutical treatments such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors often have limited efficacy. In a recent publication, we demonstrated an antidepressant-like role for the acetylcholinesterase inhibitor (AChEI) donepezil in the C57BL/6J mouse forced swim test (FST). Those data added to a limited literature in rodents and human subjects which suggests AChEIs have antidepressant properties, but added the novel finding that donepezil only showed antidepressant-like properties at lower doses (0.02, 0.2 mg/kg). At a high dose (2.0 mg/kg), donepezil tended to promote depression-like behavior, suggesting a u-shaped dose-response curve for FST immobility. Here we investigate the effects of three other AChEIs with varying molecular structures: galantamine, physostigmine, and rivastigmine, to test whether they also exhibit antidepressant-like effects in the FST. We find that these drugs do exhibit therapeutic-like effects at low but not high doses, albeit at lower doses for physostigmine. Further, we find that their antidepressant-like effects are not mediated by generalized hyperactivity in the novel open field test, and are also not accompanied by anxiolytic-like properties. These data further support the hypothesis that acetylcholine has a u-shaped dose-response relationship with immobility in the C57BL/6J mouse FST, and provide a rationale for more thoroughly investigating whether reversible AChEIs as a class can be repurposed for the treatment of MDD in human subjects. Copyright © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Citation

Paul J Fitzgerald, Pho J Hale, Anjesh Ghimire, Brendon O Watson. Multiple cholinesterase inhibitors have antidepressant-like properties in the mouse forced swim test. Behavioural brain research. 2021 Jul 09;409:113323


PMID: 33910028

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