Inflammatory responses induced by peripheral administration of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) triggers depressive-like behavioral syndrome in rodents. Inhibition of phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4) produces a robust anti-inflammatory effect in inflammatory cells. Unfortunately, archetypal PDE4 inhibitors cause intolerable gastrointestinal side-effects, such as vomiting and nausea. N
-isopropyl-3-(cyclopropylmethoxy)-4-difluoromethoxy benzamide (FCPR03) is a novel, selective PDE4 inhibitor with little, or no, emetic potency. Our previous studies show that FCPR03 is effective in attenuating neuroinflammation in mice treated with LPS. However, whether FCPR03 could exert antidepressant-like effect induced by LPS is largely unknown. In the present study, mice injected intraperitoneally (i.p.) with LPS was established as an in vivo animal model of depression. The antidepressant-like activities of FCPR03 were evaluated using a tail suspension test, forced swimming test, and sucrose preference test. We demonstrated that administration of FCPR03 (1 mg/kg) produced antidepressant-like effects in mice challenged by LPS, as evidenced by decreases in the duration of immobility in the forced swim and tail suspension tests, while no significant changes in locomotor activity were observed. FCPR03 also increased sucrose preference in mice treated with LPS. In addition, treatment with FCPR03 abolished the downregulation of brain-derived neurotrophic factor induced by LPS and decreased the level of corticosterone in plasma. Meanwhile, periphery immune challenge by LPS induced enhanced phosphorylation of p38-mitogen activated protein kinase (p38) and c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) in both the cerebral cortex and hippocampus in mice. Interestingly, treatment with FCPR03 significantly blocked the role of LPS and reduced the levels of phosphorylated p38 and JNK. Collectively, these results indicate that FCPR03 shows antidepressant-like effects in mice challenged by LPS, and the p38/JNK signaling pathway is possibly involved in this process. Our findings suggest that FCPR03 is a potential compound for the prevention or treatment of depression.
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