Inherent vulnerabilities in monoaminergic pathways predict the emergence of depressive impairments in an animal model of chronic epilepsy
The objective was to determine whether the depression comorbid with epilepsy could be predicted based on inherent premorbid patterns of monoaminergic transmission. In male Wistar rats, despair-like and anhedonia-like behaviors were examined using forced swimming and taste preference tests, respectively. Serotonergic raphe nucleus (RN)–prefrontal cortex (PFC) and dopaminergic ventral tegmental area (VTA)–nucleus accumbens (NAcc) pathways were interrogated by fast scan cyclic voltammetry (FSCV). The assays were performed before and 2 months after pilocarpine status epilepticus. In a subset of naive rats, FSCV, coupled with the intensity-dependent stimulation paradigm, detected specific deviations in each pathway (six rats for RN-PFC and seven rats for VTA-NAcc, with overlap in two, of 19 total subjects) in the absence of behavioral impairments. During epilepsy, animals with preexisting deviations in RN-PFC invariably developed despair, and rats with deviations in VTA-NAcc developed anhedonia. Serotonergic and dopaminergic pathways, respectively, showed signs of explicit deterioration. We suggest that epilepsy triggers decompensations in the already vulnerable depression-relevant neuronal circuits, which culminate in depression. The established connection between the identified specific signatures in monoamine transmission in naive rats and specific symptoms of epilepsy-associated depression may help in understanding causes of comorbidity and in developing its early biomarkers.