Orally administered whole egg demonstrates antidepressant-like effects in the forced swimming test on rats

Acta Neuropsychiatr. 2014 Aug;26(4):209-17. doi: 10.1017/neu.2013.56.


Objective: Several studies have reported that vegetarian diets are associated with a higher prevalence of major depression. Therefore, we hypothesised that the consumption of animal products, especially eggs, may have positive effects on mental health, especially on major depression, because a previous study reported that egg consumption produces numerous beneficial effects in humans. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the effects of chronic whole-egg treatment on depression-like behaviours in Wistar rats, a control strain, and Wistar Kyoto rats, an animal model of depression.

Methods: In both the rats, either whole-egg solution (5 ml/kg) or distilled water (5 ml/kg) was orally administrated for 35 days. During these periods, the open-field test (OFT) was conducted on the 21st day, and a forced swimming test (FST) was enforced on the 27th and 28th days. On the 36th day, the plasma and brain were collected.

Results: Chronic whole-egg treatment did not affect line crossing in the OFT, whereas it reduced the total duration of immobility in the FST on both strains. Furthermore, interestingly, the results indicated the possibility that whole-egg treatment elevated the incorporation of tryptophan into the brain, and the tryptophan concentration in the prefrontal cortex was actually increased by the treatment.

Conclusion: This study demonstrated that whole-egg treatment exerts an antidepressant-like effect in the FST. It is suggested that whole egg may be an excellent food for preventing and alleviating the conditions of major depression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antidepressive Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Depression / diet therapy*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Eggs*
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / drug effects
  • Prefrontal Cortex / drug effects
  • Prefrontal Cortex / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred WKY
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Serotonin / metabolism
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Swimming
  • Tryptophan / metabolism


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Serotonin
  • Tryptophan