Recent studies have shown the importance of the GABA-ergic transmission in the pathophysiology of anxiety and depressive disorders in humans. Our present study aims to investigate the interaction of melatonin (MEL) with this system by exploring the effects of MEL with or without a facilitator of GABA-ergic neurotransmission, diazepam (DZ) on the levels of depression and anxiety in Wistar rats. For this purpose, different doses of MEL (2, 4 or 16 mg/kg) or DZ (2 mg/kg) are subchronically administered during 15 days. After pharmacological treatments, anxiety levels are evaluated in behavioral tests of Open Field (OFT) and elevated plus maze (EPM) and depression levels are evaluated by the forced swim test (FST). The results showed that MEL produces anxiolytic-like and antidepressant-like effects in a dose-dependent manner; the maximum effect was obtained at a dose of 16 mg/kg. However, a dose of 4 mg/kg is necessary to induce an effect. The effect of MEL and DZ reported in this study concerns selective modulation of behavioral anxiety and depression since locomotor activity assessed by the OFT and EPM was not affected. The subchronic injection of MEL at 4 mg/kg, DZ at 2 mg/kg or the two combined molecules also induces also anxiety-like and antidepressant-like behavior. In addition, a potentiating effect between MEL and DZ was observed. These effects suggest that psychopharmacological actions of MEL are due, at least in part, to its ability to improve the central GABA-ergic transmission.
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