Mesolimbic dopamine system and its modulation by vitamin D in a chronic mild stress model of depression in the rat.
Behav Brain Res. 2018 Aug 22. Epub 2018 Aug 22. PMID: 30144460
Depression, a common mood disorder, involves anhedonia and defects in reward circuits and mesolimbic dopamine transmission in the striatum and nucleus accumbens (NAc). Active vitamin-D, (1,25-(OH)vitamin-D3), exerts protective and regulatory effects on the brain dopamine system. In this study, key depression-like symptoms were induced in rats by chronic mild-stress (CMS) and the comparative effect of treatment with 1,25-(OH)vitamin-D3 (5, 10 μg/kg, or vehicle; i.p., twice weekly) or fluoxetine (5 mg/kg or vehicle, i.p., daily) on anhedonic behavior, locomotor activity and anxiety-like behavior was examined using sucrose preference test (SPT), open field test (OFT) and novel object exploration test (NOT), respectively. We also measured serum corticosterone levels and dopamine transporter-immunoreactivity (DAT-ir) levels in NAc shell and core. CMS exposure for 3 weeks was followed by a SPT and thereafter CMS was continued for 5 weeks, along with vitamin-D or fluoxetine treatment and further testing, which was concluded with another SPT. Vitamin-D treatment enhanced sucrose preference (P < 0.01; an hedonic effect) and increased object exploration (P < 0.01) in CMS rats. CMS significantly reduced the level of DAT-ir in NAc (P < 0.0001). Vitamin-D treatment restored/increased DAT-ir levels (P < 0.0001) in CMS rat NAc (core/ shell), compared to levels in fluoxetine treated and non-treated CMS rats. Vitamin-D did not alter locomotor activity or produce an anxiolytic effect in the OFT. These data suggest that similar to the antidepressant, fluoxetine, regular vitamin-D treatment can improve 'anhedonia-like symptoms' in rats subjected to CMS, probably by regulating the effect of dopamine-related actions in the NAc. (<250 words).