Differential effect of environment enrichment and social isolation on depressive-like behavior, spontaneous activity and serotonin and norepinephrine concentration in prefrontal cortex and ventral striatum

Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2008 Mar;89(1):85-93. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2007.11.004. Epub 2007 Nov 22.


In order to determine the effect of postnatal environments on some behavioral and neurochemical depressive-like parameters, male Sprague-Dawley rats were reared from weaning in either social isolation, standard laboratory conditions, or environmental enrichment. Open-field activity was assessed at postnatal days 37, 65, 93 and 107 and 1 h before the last open-field test, a forced-swimming test was carried out. After behavioral tests, the monoamines concentrations were analyzed in prefrontal cortex and ventral striatum. Relative to control and isolation rearing, the environmental enrichment reduced open-field activity, led to antidepressive-like effects and increased serotonin concentrations in the prefrontal cortex. Social isolation, on the other hand, did not affect open-field activity, but increased depressive-like behavior and reduced the amount of norepinephrine in the ventral striatum. Those neurochemical changes induced by rearing conditions correlated with the behavioral performance in the forced-swimming test. Also, immobility behavior could be predicted by locomotor activity even from the first week of housing. Overall, specific variations in physical and social environment during early rearing lead to some behavioral and neurochemical alterations which might be relevant for understanding the role that neurodevelopmental and experiential factors could have in human depression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological / drug effects
  • Animals
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Environment*
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Neostriatum / metabolism*
  • Norepinephrine / metabolism*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Serotonin / metabolism*
  • Social Isolation*


  • Serotonin
  • Norepinephrine