Although most available antidepressants increase monoaminergic neurotransmission, their therapeutic efficacy is likely mediated by longer-term molecular adaptations. To investigate the molecular changes induced by chronic antidepressant treatment we analysed proteomic changes in rat pre-frontal/frontal cortex and hippocampus after nortriptyline (NT) administration. A wide-scale analysis of protein expression was performed on the Flinders Sensitive Line (FSL), a genetically-selected rat model of depression, and the control Flinders Resistant Line (FRL). The effect of NT treatment was examined in a gene-environment interaction model, applying maternal separation (MS) to both strains. In the forced swim test, FSL rats were significantly more immobile than FRL animals, whereas NT treatment reduced immobility time. MS alone did not modify immobility time, but it impaired the response to NT in the FSL strain. In the proteomic analysis, in FSL rats NT treatment chiefly modulated cytoskeleton proteins and carbohydrate metabolism. In the FRL strain, changes influenced protein polymerization and intracellular transport. After MS, NT treatment mainly affected proteins in nucleotide metabolism in FSL rats and synaptic transmission and neurite morphogenesis pathways in FRL rats. When the effects of NT treatment and MS were compared between strains, carbohydrate metabolic pathways were predominantly modulated.
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