[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Previous research suggests that the nonpeptide oxytocin receptor (OTR) agonist WAY 267,464 may only partly mimic the effects of oxytocin in rodents. The present study further explored these differences and related them to OTR and vasopressin 1a receptor (V(1a) R) pharmacology and regional patterns of c-Fos expression. Binding data for WAY 267,464 and oxytocin were obtained by displacement binding assays on cellular membranes, while functional receptor data were generated by luciferase reporter assays. For behavioural testing, adolescent rats were tested in a social preference paradigm, the elevated plus-maze (EPM) and for locomotor activity changes following WAY 267,464 (10 and 100 mg/kg, i.p.) or oxytocin (0.1 and 1 mg/kg, i.p.). The higher doses were also examined for their effects on regional c-Fos expression. Results showed that WAY 267,464 had higher affinity (K(i) ) at the V(1a) R than the OTR (113 versus 978 nm). However, it had no functional response at the V(1a) R and only a weak functional effect (EC(50) ) at the OTR (881 nm). This suggests WAY 267,464 is an OTR agonist with weak affinity and a possible V(1a) R antagonist. Oxytocin showed high binding at the OTR (1.0 nm) and V(1a) R (503 nm), with a functional EC(50) of 9.0 and 59.7 nm, respectively, indicating it is a potent OTR agonist and full V(1a) R agonist. WAY 267,464 (100 mg/kg), but not oxytocin, significantly increased the proportion of time spent with a live rat, over a dummy rat, in the social preference test. Neither compound affected EPM behaviour, whereas the higher doses of WAY 267,464 and oxytocin suppressed locomotor activity. WAY 267,464 and oxytocin produced similar c-Fos expression in the paraventricular hypothalamic nucleus, central amygdala, lateral parabrachial nucleus and nucleus of the solitary tract, suggesting a commonality of action at the OTR with the differential doses employed. However, WAY 267,464 caused greater c-Fos expression in the medial amygdala and the supraoptic nucleus than oxytocin, and lesser effects in the locus coeruleus. Overall, our results confirm the differential effects of WAY 267,464 and oxytocin and suggest that this may reflect contrasting actions of WAY 267,464 and oxytocin at the V(1a) R. Antagonism of the V(1a) R by WAY 267,464 could underlie some of the prosocial effects of this drug either through a direct action or through disinhibition of oxytocin circuitry that is subject to vasopressin inhibitory influences.
Journal of Neuroendocrinology 03/2012; 24(7):1012-29. DOI:10.1111/j.1365-2826.2012.02311.x · 3.14 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: There is considerable evidence suggesting genetic factors play an important role in the pathophysiology of depression, possibly by increasing susceptibility to repeated environmental stressors. Recent linkage studies have associated a polymorphism of the gene coding for the P2X7 receptor (P2X7R) with both major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder. Here we assessed whether P2X7 deletion affected the behavioural and neural response to repeated stress. P2X7R knockout (P2X7-/-) mice were subjected to the forced swim test for three consecutive days and neuronal activation in response to the third exposure was assessed using c-Fos immunohistochemistry. In addition, anxiety was evaluated in another group of P2X7-/- mice using the elevated plus maze (EPM) and light dark emergence (LDE) tests. Equivalent levels of immobility were observed in P2X7-/- mice and wild-type (WT) mice on the first exposure to forced swim, but much greater immobility was seen in WT mice on second and third exposures. This suggests that P2X7-/- mice exhibit an impaired adaptive coping response to repeated stress. Reinforcing this view, c-Fos expression in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus and in the basolateral amygdala was seen in WT mice but not P2X7-/- mice following repeated forced swim. In addition, decreased locomotor activity was detected in P2X7-/- mice without any specific effects on anxiety in the LDE test. However, P2X7-/- mice showed greater anxiety-like behaviour in the EPM. These data suggest that the P2X7R may be involved in the adaptive mechanisms elicited by exposure to repeated environmental stressors that leads to the development of depression-like behaviours. This suggests that P2X7R antagonists may be useful therapeutics for the treatment of major depression, possibly by increasing resilience in the face of repeated stress.