Brain corticotropin-releasing factor immunoreactivity and receptors in five inbred rat strains: Relationship to forced swimming behaviour

Abdeljalil Lahmame, Dimitri E. Grigoriadis, Errol B. De Souza, Antonio Armario

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    In the present work we studied the relationship between behaviour in the forced swimming test (FST), a test that presumably measures depressive-like behaviour in rodents, and central corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) concentration and binding in five strains of rats. The strains were: Brown-Norway (BN), Fisher (FIS) 344, Lewis (LEW), spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) and Wistar-Kyoto rats (WKY). The FST data corresponding to the pretest showed significant inter-strain differences in both struggling and immobility: BN and WKY rats displayed lower levels of struggling and longer periods of immobility, LEW and SHR rats showed intermediate levels, and FIS rats were the most active. The results of the pretest were roughly similar to those observed in the test, the activity of WKY being extremely low. The CRF binding revealed significant inter-strain differences in prefrontal cortex and hippocampus, but not in cerebellum, pons-medulla or hypothalamus: in the prefrontal cortex, BN and FIS rats showed greater CRF binding than LEW, SHR and WKY rats; in the hippocampus BN rats showed higher levels of CRF binding than the other strains. The study of CRF content in various brain areas revealed inter-strain differences in prefrontal cortex and pons-medulla, but not in parietal-temporal cortex or in hypothalamus (CRF concentrations in the hippocampus were not detectable): CRF content in the prefrontal cortex was higher in BN than in the other strains, although the differences with FIS were not statistically significant; in the pons-medulla, FIS and LEW showed significantly higher CRF content than the other strains. From the present results it appears that BN and WKY rats were more prone to adopt passive strategies in the FST, but they did not show higher brain CRF immunoreactivity or down-regulation of CRF receptors. Hence, although there were inter-strains differences in all variables studied, no evidence for a relationship between the FST behaviour and central CRF activity was found.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)285-292
    JournalBrain Research
    Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 1997


    • Brown-Norway rat
    • Fisher 344 rat
    • Lewis rat
    • Wistar-Kyoto rat
    • corticotropin-releasing factor
    • depression
    • forced swimming test
    • spontaneously hypertensive rat


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