Vortioxetine restores reversal learning impaired by 5-HT depletion or chronic intermittent cold stress in rats

Ashley Wallace, Alan L. Pehrson, Connie Sánchez, David A. Morilak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

62 Scopus citations

Abstract

Current treatments for depression, including serotonin-specific reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), are only partially effective, with a high incidence of residual symptoms, relapse, and treatment resistance. Loss of cognitive flexibility, a component of depression, is associated with dysregulation of the prefrontal cortex. Reversal learning, a form of cognitive flexibility, is impaired by chronic stress, a risk factor for depression, and the stress-induced impairment in reversal learning is sensitive to chronic SSRI treatment, and is mimicked by serotonin (5-HT) depletion. Vortioxetine, a novel, multimodal-acting antidepressant, is a 5-HT3, 5-HT7 and 5-HT1D receptor antagonist, a 5-HT1B receptor partial agonist, a 5-HT1A receptor agonist, and inhibits the 5-HT transporter. Using adult male rats, we first investigated the direct effects of vortioxetine, acting at post-synaptic 5-HT receptors, on reversal learning that was compromised by 5-HT depletion using 4-chloro-DL-phenylalanine methyl ester hydrochloride (PCPA), effectively eliminating any contribution of 5-HT reuptake blockade. PCPA induced a reversal learning impairment that was alleviated by acute or sub-chronic vortioxetine administration, suggesting that post-synaptic 5-HT receptor activation contributes to the effects of vortioxetine. We then investigated the effects of chronic dietary administration of vortioxetine on reversal learning that had been compromised in intact animals exposed to chronic intermittent cold (CIC) stress, to assess vortioxetine's total pharmacological effect. CIC stress impaired reversal learning, and chronic vortioxetine administration prevented the reversal-learning deficit. Together, these results suggest that the direct effect of vortioxetine at 5-HT receptors may contribute to positive effects on cognitive flexibility deficits, and may enhance the effect of 5-HT reuptake blockade.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1695-1706
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology
Volume17
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2014

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Keywords

  • Antidepressant
  • Chronic stress
  • Cognitive flexibility
  • Orbitofrontal cortex
  • Reversal learning
  • Serotonin

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