Antidepressive behaviors induced byenriched environment might be modulated by glucocorticoid levels

Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2009 Dec;19(12):868-75. doi: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2009.07.004. Epub 2009 Aug 6.


Exposure to enriched environment (EE) can influence expression of depression symptoms, however, the underlying mechanism has not been established, although neurogenesis was probably involved. It has been reported that EE stimulates glucocorticoids release. However, the role of corticosterone (CORT) in effects of EE is still unknown. To address these issues, we examined depression-like behaviors of the animals exposed to EE with low dose CORT supplement following bilateral adrenalectomy (ADX+CORT). Two months after housing, tail suspension test and forced swim test were used to assess depression-related behavior of mice. Serum CORT levels were measured by radio-immunoassay. Signals of DNA synthesis marker bromodeoxyuridine and immature neuronal marker doublecortin were measured by immunohistochemistry. Results showed that EE significantly decreased immobility time of the mice in both the tail suspension test and forced swim test, showing distinctive antidepressive behaviors. Exposure to EE also increased serum CORT level, and prevention of this increase with ADX+CORT eliminated the decrease of immobility time of the animals. Both the mice exposed to EE and those receiving ADX+CORT treatment showed enhanced newly born cells and immature granule neurons in the hippocampus. Taken together, our data suggest that glucocorticoids elevation is required for antidepressive behaviors of EE.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adrenalectomy / methods
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Bromodeoxyuridine / metabolism
  • Cell Count / methods
  • Depression / metabolism*
  • Depression / pathology
  • Depression / physiopathology
  • Depression / therapy*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Doublecortin Domain Proteins
  • Environment*
  • Glucocorticoids / administration & dosage
  • Glucocorticoids / blood*
  • Hindlimb Suspension / methods
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / metabolism
  • Neuropeptides / metabolism
  • Radioimmunoassay / methods
  • Swimming


  • Doublecortin Domain Proteins
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • Neuropeptides
  • Bromodeoxyuridine