Dendritic arbor simplification and dendritic spine loss in the hippocampus, a limbic structure implicated in mood disorders, are assumed to contribute to symptoms of depression. These morphological changes imply modifications in dendritic cytoskeleton. Rho GTPases are regulators of actin dynamics through their effector Rho kinase. We have reported that chronic stress promotes depressive-like behaviors in rats along with dendritic spine loss in apical dendrites of hippocampal pyramidal neurons, changes associated with Rho kinase activation. The present study proposes that the Rho kinase inhibitor Fasudil may prevent the stress-induced behavior and dendritic spine loss.
Adult male Sprague-Dawley rats were injected with saline or Fasudil (i.p., 10 mg/kg) starting 4 days prior to and maintained during the restraint stress procedure (2.5 h/d for 14 days). Nonstressed control animals were injected with saline or Fasudil for 18 days. At 24 hours after treatment, forced swimming test, Golgi-staining, and immuno-western blot were performed.
Our findings suggest that Fasudil may prevent the development of abnormal behavior and spine loss induced by chronic stress by blocking Rho kinase activity.