At a functional level, rats and depressive patients respond similarly to social stress. © Vasiliy Koval/stock.adobe.com

At a functional level, rats and depressive patients respond similarly to social stress. © Vasiliy Koval/stock.adobe.com

How is the effect of antidepressants influenced by treatment experiences?

Patients who suffer from depression often see several doctors over a period of years and try a number of different treatments. These experiences, both positive and negative, can have an impact on the effect of antidepressants. This project uses an animal model to investigate neurobiological mechanisms, with the long-term objective of improving the multimodal and sometimes lengthy treatment of depressive patients.

Research summary

Effects of positive and negative treatment experiences on antidepressant effect in rats: from behaviour to neurobiological mechanisms

This project investigates the neurobiological mechanisms of the antidepressant effects of positive vs negative expectations arising from previous treatment experiences. Using rats, it examines how previous treatment experiences influence the effect of pharmacological antidepressant treatment. The animal model provides a unique opportunity to explore these effects on behaviour at neural and molecular level. It will focus on plasticity processes and dopaminergic signalling pathways in the brain and distinguish between the prefrontal cortex and mesolimbic reward centre in terms of their importance for treatment expectation.

Recommended reading:

Brenes JC, Lackinger M, Höglinger GU, Schratt G, Schwarting RKW, Wöhr M (2016) Differential effects of social and physical environmental enrichment on brain plasticity, cognition, and ultrasonic communication in rats. J Comp Neurol 524: 1586-1607. PubMed

Lukas M, Wöhr M (2015) Endogenous vasopressin, innate anxiety, and the emission of pro-social 50-kHz ultrasonic vocalizations during social play behavior in juvenile rats. Psychoneuroendocrinology 56: 35-44. PubMed

Rief W, Barsky AJ, Bingel U, Doering B, Schwarting RKW, Wöhr M, Schweiger U (2016) Rethinking psychopharmacotherapy: The role of treatment context and brain plasticity in antidepressant and antipsychotic interventions. Neurosci Biobehav Rev 60: 51-64. PubMed

In close cooperation with these projects

A01

A01

A02

A02

A03

A03

A06

A06

A07

A07

How do positive expectations improve mood?

Prof. Dr. Erik M. Müller
Prof. Dr. Dominik M. Endres

A08

A08

Do positive expectations improve the effect of antidepressants?

Prof. Dr. Tilo Kircher
PD Dr. Irina Falkenberg

A10

A10

Project Lead

Prof. Dr. Markus Wöhr

Prof. Markus Wöhr
Psychologist, Behavioural Scientist

Prof. Dr. Rainer K.W. Schwarting

Prof. Dr. Rainer K.W. Schwarting
Psychologist, Behavioural Scientist

Team

Dr. Özge Sungur
Postdoc, Molecularbiologist, Behavioural Scientist