Adipocytokine signaling is altered in Flinders sensitive line rats, and adiponectin correlates in humans with some symptoms of depression

Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2013 Jan;103(3):643-51. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2012.11.001. Epub 2012 Nov 12.


Major depression is a complex multi-factorial disorder with a lifetime diagnosis of nearly 1 out of 6. We used the Flinders Sensitive Line (FSL) of rats, a model of depression, and the parent Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats to identify genes, gene ontology categories and pathways associated with depression. Depression-like behavior was verified in the FSL line by forced swim testing, with FSL animals exhibiting greater immobility compared to SD rats. RNA samples from the hippocampus were isolated from a group of experimentally naïve FSL and SD rats for microarray analysis. Microarray analysis yielded a total of 361 genes that were differentially regulated between FSL and SD rats, with catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) being the most up-regulated. The genes that were differentially regulated between FSL and SD rats were subjected to bioinformatic analysis using the Database for Annotation, Visualization and Integrated Discovery (DAVID), which yielded several gene ontology categories that were overrepresented. Subsequent pathway analysis indicated dysregulation of the adipocytokine signaling pathway. To test the translational impact of this pathway, metabolic factors and psychiatric symptoms were evaluated in a sample of human research participants. Results from our human subjects indicated that anxiety and a subset of depressive symptoms were correlated with adiponectin levels (but not leptin levels). Our results and those of others suggest that disruption of the adipocytokine signaling pathway may be a critical component of the depressive-like behaviors observed in the FSL rats and may also be an important indicator of depressive and anxiety symptoms in humans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adiponectin / metabolism*
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Anxiety / blood
  • Anxiety / genetics*
  • Anxiety / metabolism
  • Catechol O-Methyltransferase / metabolism
  • Databases, Genetic
  • Depression / blood
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / genetics
  • Depression / metabolism*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immobility Response, Tonic / physiology
  • Leptin / metabolism
  • Male
  • Microarray Analysis
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Up-Regulation


  • Adiponectin
  • Leptin
  • Catechol O-Methyltransferase