Cytokine-dependent mechanisms in the CNS have been implicated in the pathogenesis of depression. Interleukin-6 is upregulated in depressed patients and dowregulated by antidepressants. It is, however, unknown whether IL-6 is involved in the pathogenesis of depression. We subjected IL-6-deficient mice (IL-6-/-) to depression-related tests (learned helplessness, forced swimming, tail suspension, sucrose preference). We also investigated IL-6 in the hippocampus of stressed wild-type mice. IL-6-/- mice showed reduced despair in the forced swim, and tail suspension test, and enhanced hedonic behavior. Moreover, IL-6-/- mice exhibited resistance to helplessness. This resistance may be caused by the lack of IL-6, because stress increased IL-6 expression in wild-type hippocampi. This suggests that IL-6 is a component in molecular mechanisms in the pathogenesis of depression. IL-6-/- mice represent tools to study IL-6-dependent signaling pathways in the pathophysiology of depression in vivo. Moreover, these mice may support the screening of compounds for depression by altering cytokine-mediated signaling.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)