Doxycycline (Dox)-inducible transgenic approach is used to examine the neural mechanisms of anxiety and depression; however, its own effects on related behaviors are not clear. To address this, in the present study, we tested the anxiety- and depression-like behaviors in rats treated with Dox in drinking water (2 mg/ml) in the elevated plus-maze (EPM; on day 5) and forced swim (FST; on day 8) tests, respectively. In addition, the levels of mRNAs and proteins of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-xL in the hippocampus (HIPP) and frontal cortex (FC) were also analyzed. Consumption of Dox for 4 days induced an anxiogenic-like phenotype that was manifested by the decreased percentages of open arm entries and time spent on the open arms of the EPM. After Dox for 7 days, animals demonstrated more active behavior in the FST than control rats as evidenced by the increase in climbing time. When assessed after the FST, expression of Bcl-xL was increased in the hippocampus of Dox-treated animals. Furthermore, hippocampal Bcl-xL content correlated positively with the duration of climbing in the test. This study is the first to find that Dox in treatment regime used to control transgene expression can affect anxiety- and depression-like behaviors in rats. Dox-induced increase in Bcl-xL expression in the hippocampus may be involved in the moderate activation of FST behavior.
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