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Anxiolytic effects of buspirone and MTEP in the Porsolt Forced Swim Test.

  • Author(s): Lee, KM
  • Coelho, MA
  • Sern, KR
  • Class, MA
  • Bocz, MD
  • Szumlinski, KK
  • et al.

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Traditionally, a reduction in floating behavior or immobility in the Porsolt forced swim test (FST) is employed as a predictor of antidepressant efficacy. However, over the past several years, our studies of alcohol withdrawal-induced negative affect consistently indicate the coincidence of increased anxiety-related behaviors on various behavioral tests with reduced immobility in the FST. Further, this behavioral profile correlates with increased mGlu5 protein expression within limbic brain regions. As the role for mGlu5 in anxiety is well established, we hypothesized that the reduced immobility exhibited by alcohol-withdrawn mice when tested in the FST might reflect anxiety, possibly a hyper-reactivity to the acute swim stressor. Herein, we evaluated whether or not the decreased FST immobility during alcohol withdrawal responds to systemic treatment with a behaviorally-effective dose of the prototypical anxiolytic, buspirone (5 mg/kg). We also determined the functional relevance of the withdrawal-induced increase in mGlu5 expression for FST behavior by comparing the effects of buspirone to a behaviorally effective dose of the mGlu5 negative allosteric modulator MTEP (3 mg/kg). Adult male C57BL/6J mice were subjected to a 14-day, multi-bottle, binge-drinking protocol that elicits hyper-anxiety and increases glutamate-related protein expression during early withdrawal. Control animals received only water. At 24hr withdrawal, animals from each drinking condition were subdivided into groups and treated with an IP injection of buspirone, MTEP, or vehicle, 30min prior to the FST. Drug effects on general locomotor activity were also assessed. As we reported previously, alcohol-withdrawn animals exhibited significantly reduced immobility in the FST compared to water controls. Both buspirone and MTEP significantly increased immobility in alcohol-withdrawn animals, with a modest increase also seen in water controls. No significant group differences were observed for locomotor activity, indicating that neither anxiolytic was sedating. These results provide predictive validity for increased swimming/reduced immobility in the FST as a model of anxiety and provide novel evidence in favor of mGlu5 inhibition as an effective therapeutic strategy for treating hyperanxiety during alcohol withdrawal.

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