Selective aryl hydrocarbon receptor modulators can act as antidepressants in obese female mice. Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: Obese females are more likely to suffer from depression and are also more likely to be resistant to current medications. This study examined the potential antidepressant-like effects of 1,4-dihydroxy-2-napthoic acid (DHNA), a selective aryl hydrocarbon receptor modulator (SAhRM), in obese female mice. METHODS: Obesity was established by feeding C57BL/6N female mice a high fat diet (HFD) for 9-10weeks. Subsequently, mice were subjected to unpredictable chronic mild stress (UCMS) or remained unstressed. Daily administration of vehicle or 20mg/kg DHNA began three weeks prior or on the third week of UCMS. Mice were examined for depression-like behaviors (sucrose preference, forced swim test (FST), splash and tape groom tests), anxiety (open-field test, light/dark test, novelty-induced hypophagia), and cognition (object location recognition, novel object recognition, Morris water maze). RESULTS: UCMS did not alter, and DHNA slightly increased, weight gain in HFD-fed females. HFD decreased sucrose preference, increased FST immobility time, but did not alter splash and tape tests' grooming time. UCMS did not have additional effects on sucrose preference. UCMS further increased FST immobility time and decreased splash and tape tests' grooming time; these effects were prevented and reversed by DHNA treatment. HFD did not affect behaviors in the cognitive tests. UCMS impaired spatial learning; this effect was not prevented nor reversed by DHNA. CONCLUSIONS: DHNA protected against UCMS-induced depression-like behaviors in HFD-fed female mice. DHNA neither improved nor worsened UCMS-induced impairment of spatial learning. Our findings indicate that DHNA has high potential to act as an antidepressant in obese females.

published proceedings

  • J Affect Disord

altmetric score

  • 0.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Debler, R. A., Madison, C. A., Hillbrick, L., Gallegos, P., Safe, S., Chapkin, R. S., & Eitan, S.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Debler, Roanna A||Madison, Caitlin A||Hillbrick, Lauren||Gallegos, Paula||Safe, Stephen||Chapkin, Robert S||Eitan, Shoshana

publication date

  • July 2023