Sleep patterns deteriorate over time in chronic corticosterone-treated rats

Publication date: 24 August 2018
Source:Neuroscience Letters, Volume 682
Author(s): Xiang-Yu Cui, Guang Yang, Su-Ying Cui, Qing Cao, Yuan-Li Huang, Hui Ding, Hui Ye, Xue-Qiong Zhang, Zi-Jun Wang, Yong-He Zhang
Repeated corticosterone (CORT) injections reliably produce depressive-like behavior in rodents. Our previous study showed that sleep parameters were altered in rats after daily injections of CORT for 7 days, and sleep disturbances appeared to be correlated with depressive-like behavior. The aim of the present study was to investigate time-dependent correlations between changes in sleep parameters and the formation of depressive-like behavior in rats after more prolonged treatment with CORT. Rats received daily injections of CORT (40 mg/kg, s.c.) for 7, 14, or 21 days. Electroencephalographic recordings were performed to study sleep parameters. The sucrose preference test and forced swim test were performed to evaluate depressive-like behavior. Western blot was used to detect protein levels. Our results showed that 7-day CORT treatment resulted in no significant depressive-like behavior or changes in rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep. However, the duration of non-REM sleep significantly decreased, tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) levels significantly increased, and glucocorticoid receptor (GR) expression decreased in the locus coeruleus. Treatment with CORT for 14 and 21 days increased depressive-like behavior, enhanced REM sleep, shortened REM sleep latency, decreased TH and GR levels, and increased the levels of the chaperone FK506 binding protein 51 (FKBP51) in the locus coeruleus. These results indicate that the development of depression after chronic CORT treatment may be related to the formation of sleep disorders. Abnormalities of REM sleep may be a characteristic of sleep in models of depression that is induced by chronic CORT administration in rats. The noradrenergic system and GR pathway in the locus coeruleus may be involved in the formation of depression concomitant with sleep disturbances.