Antidepressant-like drug effects in juvenile and adolescent mice in the tail suspension test: Relationship with hippocampal serotonin and norepinephrine transporter expression and function

Nathan C. Mitchell, Georgianna G. Gould, Corey M. Smolik, Wouter Koek, Lynette C. Daws

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Scopus citations


Depression is a major health problem for which most patients are not effectively treated. This problem is further compounded in children and adolescents where only two antidepressants [both selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)] are currently approved for clinical use. Mouse models provide tools to identify mechanisms that might account for poor treatment response to antidepressants. However, there are few studies in adolescent mice and none in juvenile mice. The tail suspension test (TST) is commonly used to assay for antidepressant-like effects of drugs in adult mice. Here we show that the TST can also be used to assay antidepressant-like effects of drugs in C57Bl/6 mice aged 21 (juvenile) and 28 (adolescent) days post-partum (P). We found that the magnitude of antidepressant-like response to the SSRI escitalopram was less in P21 mice than in P28 or adult mice. The smaller antidepressant response of juveniles was not related to either maximal binding (Bmax) or affinity (Kd) for [3H]citalopram binding to the serotonin transporter (SERT) in hippocampus, which did not vary significantly among ages. Magnitude of antidepressant-like response to the tricyclic desipramine was similar among ages, as were Bmax and Kd values for [3H]nisoxetine binding to the norepinephrine transporter in hippocampus. Together, these findings suggest that juvenile mice are less responsive to the antidepressant-like effects of escitalopram than adults, but that this effect is not due to delayed maturation of SERT in hippocampus. Showing that theTST is a relevant behavioral assay of antidepressant-like activity in juvenile and adolescent mice sets the stage for future studies of the mechanisms underlying the antidepressant response in these young populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalFrontiers in Pharmacology
Issue numberOCT
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013



  • Adolescent
  • Antidepressant
  • Depression
  • Juvenile
  • Norepinephrine transporter
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor
  • Tricyclic
  • serotonin transporter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)

Cite this