Original article| Volume 34, ISSUE 1-2, P100-107, July 01, 1993

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Effect of mixed (RB 38A) and selective (RB 38B) inhibitors of enkephalin degrading enzymes on a model of depression in the rat

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      This is a study of the effects of the endogenous opioid peptides, enkephalins, on learned helplessness, an experimental model of depression in rats. For this purpose, the responses induced by RB 38A, a mixed inhibitor of enkephalin catabolism, and RB 38B, a selective inhibitor of neutral endopeptidase EC, were compared with the antidepressive effect induced by imipramine, RB 38A and RB 38B induced an imipramine-like effect in reducing helpless behavior, as illustrated by the decrease in the number of escape failures. According to the different pharmacological potential of both inhibitors to reduce enkephalin metabolism, complete inhibition of enkephalins (RB 38A) produced a higher response than that obtained with a partial inhibitor (RB 38B). On the other hand, naloxone (NLX) was found to facilitate the induction of learned helplessness, and to antagonize the effect of both enkephalin-degrading enzyme inhibitors. These results suggest that modifications in the activity of the endogenous opioid system could take place in this model of depression. The antidepressant-like effects induced by RB 38B, and especially by RB 38A, in the learned helplessness paradigm suggest that new mixed enkephalinase inhibitors, able to cross the blood-brain barrier, could provide a new strategy in the treatment of affective disorders.


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