Brain neurotransmitters in an animal model with postpartum depressive-like behavior

Y. Avraham*, Y. Hants, L. Vorobeiv, M. Staum, Wiessam Abu Ahmad, D. Mankuta, E. Galun, S. Arbel-Alon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Post-Partum Depression (PPD) occurs in 15% of pregnancies and its patho-physiology is not known. We studied female BALB/c (“depressive”) and C57BL/6 (control) mice as a model for PPD and assessed their behavior and correlates with brain neurotransmitters (NTs) – norepinephrine, dopamine, serotonin and intermediates, during the pre-pregnancy (PREP), pregnancy (PREG) and post-partum (PP) periods. Depressive-like behavior was evaluated by the Open Field (OFT), Tail Suspension (TST) and Forced Swim (FST) tests. Neurotransmitters (NTs) were determined in the striatum (care-giving), hippocampus (cognitive function) and hypothalamus (maternal care & eating behavior). In the BALB/c mice, while their performance in all behavioral tests was significantly reduced during pregnancy and P-P indicative of the development of depressive-like responses, no changes were observed in the C57BL/6 mice. Changes in NTs in BALB/C were as follows: PREP, all NTs in the three brain areas were decreased, although an increase in dopamine release was observed in the hippocampus. PREG: No changes were observed in the NTs except for a decrease in 5-HT in the striatum. P-P: striatum, low 5-HT, NE and dopamine; Hippocampus: low 5-HT, NE and high Dopamine; hypothalamus: all NTs increased, especially NE. Following pregnancy and delivery, the BALB/c mice developed depressive-like behavior associated with a significant decrease in 5-HT, dopamine and NE in the striatum and 5-HT and NE in the hippocampus. Dopamine increased in the latter together with a significant increase in all NTs in the hypothalamus. These findings suggest that the development of PPD may be associated with NT changes. Normalization of these alterations may have a role in the treatment of PPD.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)307-321
Number of pages15
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
StatePublished - 30 May 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier B.V.


  • Forced swim test
  • Maternal behavior
  • Neurotransmitters (NT)
  • Open field test
  • Post-partum depression (PPD)
  • Tail suspension test


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