Beside its hormonal function in salt and water homeostasis, vasopressin released into distinct brain areas plays a crucial role in stress-related behavior resulting in the enhancement of an anxious/depressive-like state. We aimed to investigate whether correction of the peripheral symptoms of congenital absence of AVP also corrects the behavioral alterations in AVP-deficient Brattleboro rats. Wild type (WT) and vasopressin-deficient (KO) male Brattleboro rats were tested. Half of the KO animals were treated by desmopressin (V2-receptor agonist) via osmotic minipump (subcutaneous) to eliminate the peripheral symptoms of vasopressin-deficiency. Anxiety was studied by elevated plus maze (EPM), defensive withdrawal (DW) and marble burying (MB) tests, while depressive-like changes were monitored in forced swimming (FS) and anhedonia by sucrose preference test. Cell activity was examined in septum and amygdala by c-Fos immunohistochemistry after 10 min FS. KO rats spent more time in the open arm of the EPM, spent less time at the periphery of DW and showed less burying behavior in MB suggesting a reduced anxiety state. KO animals showed less floating behavior during FS revealing a less depressive phenotype. Desmopressin treatment compensated the peripheral effects of vasopressin-deficiency without a significant influence on the behavior. The FS-induced c-Fos immunoreactivity in the medial amygdala was different in WT and KO rats, with almost identical levels in KO and desmopressin treated animals. There were no differences in central and basolateral amygdala as well as in lateral septum. Our data confirmed the role of vasopressin in the development of affective disorders through central mechanisms. The involvement of the medial amygdala in the behavioral alterations of vasopressin deficient animals deserves further attention.
Keywords: Amygdala; Anxiety; DDAVP; Depression; Lateral septum; Recognition memory.
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