A detailed analysis of open-field habituation and behavioral and neurochemical antidepressant-like effects in postweaning enriched rats
Brenes Sáenz, Juan Carlos
Padilla Mora, Michael
Fornaguera Trías, Jaime
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Our previous work has shown that male Sprague–Dawley rats reared in social isolation, standard housing and environmental enrichment differ in their spontaneous open-field activity and in some neurobehavioral depressive-like parameters. Here, we extended this evidence by using a shorter postweaning rearing period (1 month) and including additional evaluations. First, in order to obtain a better characterization of the exploratory strategies among rearing conditions we analyzed in detail the spontaneous activity at the first minute and during the 10-min session. Second, we asked whether the changes in open-field activity were related with basal anxiety levels in the elevated plus-maze. Third, behavior in the forced-swimming test was analyzed and afterward, the tissue levels of hippocampal norepinephrine and serotonin were assessed. The possible relationship between neurotransmitters and forced-swimming behavior were explored through correlation analyses. We found that rearing conditions (i) differed on locomotor habituation and on sensory-motor exploration at the first minute and during the 10-min session without modifying the plus-maze behavior; (ii) affected differentially the grooming time, its sequential components, and the relationship between grooming and locomotor parameters; (iii) modified forced-swimming behavior and the hippocampal concentration of norepinephrine, serotonin, and its turnover; and (iv) produced different correlation patterns between both neurotransmitters and forced-swimming behaviors. Overall, environmental enrichment accelerated open-field habituation and led to behavioral and neurochemical antidepressant-like effects. In contract, isolation rearing strongly impaired habituation and simple information processing, but showed marginal effects on depressive-like behavior and on hippocampal neurochemistry. The current results suggest that differential rearing is not only a useful procedure to study behavioral plasticity or rigidity in response to early experience, but also to modeling some developmental protective or risk factors underlying depressive disorders.