Anxiolytic and panicolytic effects of escitalopram in the elevated T-maze

J Psychopharmacol. 2008 Mar;22(2):132-7. doi: 10.1177/0269881107079866. Epub 2008 Jan 21.


Escitalopram is a highly selective inhibitor of serotonin re-uptake that is used to treat anxiety disorders. In the present study, we investigated the effects of acute, sub-chronic (14 days) and chronic (21 days) administration of escitalopram (2, 4 and 8 mg/kg, PO) on the performance of rats in the elevated T-maze. For comparison, imipramine (15 mg/kg, PO) was also studied. The apparatus is made of three elevated arms of equal dimension, one enclosed transversal to the two open arms. Inhibitory avoidance of the open arms, trained in the enclosed arm, has been related to generalised anxiety disorder, while one-way escape from one open arm, to panic disorder. After acute administration, the three doses of escitalopram impaired avoidance (anxiolytic effect), while imipramine was ineffective. Escape was unaffected by either drug. With subchronic administration, both drugs were ineffective on either avoidance or escape. After chronic treatment, avoidance was impaired by imipramine and by the two highest doses of escitalopram. In addition, escape was impaired (panicolytic effect) by imipramine and by the highest dose of escitalopram. Locomotion measured in a square arena was increased by the three doses of escitalopram, given chronically. Therefore, both imipramine and escitalopram had anxiolytic and panicolytic-like effects after chronic administration, but acutely only escitalopram decreased anxiety. Since no such effect was observed following subchronic administration, it is likely that the mechanisms of the early and late anxiolytic actions of escitalopram are different.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / pharmacology*
  • Avoidance Learning / drug effects*
  • Citalopram / pharmacology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Escape Reaction / drug effects*
  • Fear / drug effects*
  • Imipramine / pharmacology
  • Long-Term Care
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / drug effects*
  • Panic / drug effects*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar


  • Anti-Anxiety Agents
  • Citalopram
  • Imipramine