Aim: To investigate the potential antidepressant and anxiolytic effects of Neu-P11, a novel melatonin agonist, in two models of depression in rats and a model of anxiety in mice.
Methods: In the learned helplessness test (LH), Neu-P11 or melatonin (25-100 mg/kg, ip) was administered to rats 2 h before the beginning of the dark phase once a day for 5 days and the number of escape failures and intertrial crossings during the test phase were recorded. In the forced swimming test (FST), rats received a single or repeated administration of Neu-P11 (25-100 mg/kg, ip). The total period of immobility during the test phase was assessed. In the elevated plus-maze test (EPM), mice were treated with Neu-P11 (25-100 mg/kg, ip) or melatonin in the morning or in the evening and tested 2 h later. The percentage of time spent in the open arms and the open arms entries were assessed.
Results: In the LH test, Neu-P11 but not melatonin significantly decreased the escape deficit and had no effect on the intertrial crossings. In the FST, a single or repeated administration of Neu-P11, either in the morning or in the evening, significantly decreased the duration of immobility. In the EPM test, Neu-P11 significantly increased the percentage of time spent in the open arms and the open arms entries irrespective to the time of administration. Melatonin was effective only when administered in the afternoon.
Conclusion: The results demonstrate that Neu-P11 exerts antidepressant and anxiolytic activities in rodent models.