The WAG/Rij strain: A genetic animal model of absence epilepsy with comorbidity of depressiony

The WAG/Rij strain: A genetic animal model of absence epilepsy with comorbidity of depressiony,10.1016/j.pnpbp.2010.11.010,Progress in Neuro-psychopha

The WAG/Rij strain: A genetic animal model of absence epilepsy with comorbidity of depressiony   (Citations: 4)
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A great number of clinical observations show a relationship between epilepsy and depression. Idiopathic generalized epilepsy, including absence epilepsy, has a genetic basis. The review provides evidence that WAG/Rij rats can be regarded as a valid genetic animal model of absence epilepsy with comorbidity of depression. WAG/Rij rats, originally developed as an animal model of human absence epilepsy, share many EEG and behavioral characteristics resembling absence epilepsy in humans, including the similarity of action of various antiepileptic drugs. Behavioral studies indicate that WAG/Rij rats exhibit depression-like symptoms: decreased investigative activity in the open field test, increased immobility in the forced swimming test, and decreased sucrose consumption and preference (anhedonia). In addition, WAG/Rij rats adopt passive strategies in stressful situations, express some cognitive disturbances (reduced long-term memory), helplessness, and submissiveness, inability to make choice and overcome obstacles, which are typical for depressed patients. Elevated anxiety is not a characteristic (specific) feature of WAG/Rij rats; it is a characteristic for only a sub-strain of WAG/Rij rats susceptible to audiogenic seizures. Interestingly, WAG/Rij rats display a hyper-response to amphetamine similar to anhedonic depressed patients. WAG/Rij rats are sensitive only to chronic, but not acute, antidepressant treatments, suggesting that WAG/Rij rats fulfill a criterion of predictive validity for a putative animal model of depression. However, more and different antidepressant drugs still await evaluation. Depression-like behavioral symptoms in WAG/Rij rats are evident at baseline conditions, not exclusively after stress. Experiments with foot-shock stress do not point towards higher stress sensitivity at both behavioral and hormonal levels. However, freezing behavior (coping deficits) and blunted response of 5HT in the frontal cortex to uncontrollable sound stress, increased c-fos expression in the terminal regions of the meso-cortico-limbic brain systems and greater DA response of the mesolimbic system to forced swim stress suggest that WAG/Rij rats are vulnerable to some, but not to all types of stressors. We propose that genetic absence epileptic WAG/Rij rats have behavioral depression-like symptoms, are vulnerable to stress and might represent a model of chronic low-grade depression (dysthymia). Both 5HT and DAergic abnormalities detected in the brain of WAG/Rij rats are involved in modulation of vulnerability to stress and provocation of behavioral depression-like symptoms. The same neurotransmitter systems modulate SWDs as well. Recent studies suggest that the occurrence and repetition of absence seizures are a precipitant of depression-like behavior. Whether the neurochemical changes are primary to depression-like behavioral alterations remains to be determined. In conclusion, the WAG/Rij rats can be considered as a genetic animal model for absence epilepsy with comorbidity of dysthymia. This model can be used to investigate etiology, pathogenic mechanisms and treatment of a psychiatric comorbidity, such as depression in absence epilepsy, to reveal putative genes contributing to comorbid depressive disorder, and to screen novel psychotropic drugs with a selective and/or complex (dual) action on both pathologies.
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