, Volume 182, Issue 3, pp 335–344 | Cite as

Differential behavioral effects of the antidepressants reboxetine, fluoxetine, and moclobemide in a modified forced swim test following chronic treatment

Original Investigation



The forced swim test (FST) is the most widely used model for assessing potential antidepressant activity in rodents following acute or short-term treatment. However, few studies have compared the effects of short- and long-term antidepressant treatment on behaviors in the test, despite the need to treat patients chronically to produce clinical effects.


The current studies examined whether antidepressants from different classes produce different behavioral effects following short-term treatment and whether such effects change following administration for a longer duration.


The effects of administering short-term (3 days) and long-term (14 days) treatments of antidepressants from three different chemical classes with distinct mechanisms of action via osmotic minipump were examined: the selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor reboxetine (10 and 60 mg kg−1 day−1), the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor fluoxetine (2.5 and 15 mg kg−1 day−1), and the reversible inhibitor of monoamine oxidase moclobemide (2.5 and 15 mg kg−1 day−1). All testing was carried out in a 15-min test with no preswim session in order to negate any confounding aspect of an induction procedure.


The majority of antidepressant-sensitive behavioral changes were observed in the first 5 min of the test. The low dose of reboxetine failed to alter behavior in the test after 3 days but significantly decreased immobility and increased climbing behavior following administration for 14 days, whereas the high dose of reboxetine was equally effective following 3 and 14 days of treatment. In a similar fashion, the low dose of fluoxetine failed to alter behavior in the test following 3 days, but showed an augmented response on immobility and increased swimming following administration for 14 days. The high dose of fluoxetine was slightly more effective at reducing immobility following administration for 14 days than 3 days. The low dose of moclobemide decreased immobility and increased climbing behavior following treatment for 3 days, but increases in both swimming and climbing behaviors were measured following treatment for 14 days. Treatment with the high dose of moclobemide for 3 days decreased immobility and increased swimming, whereas treatment for 14 days significantly increased both active behaviors (swimming and climbing).


Antidepressants from three different classes produce different effects on active behaviors in the FST. The effects of antidepressants were augmented following chronic administration for 14 days, especially when given at low doses. This suggests that modifications of the FST can be used to examine the onset of action of antidepressant agents produced by long-term administration.


Antidepressant Noradrenergic Serotonergic Forced swimming test Animal model 



This research was supported by USPHS grant MH 36262 and the Pharmacia UpJohn Company (Kalamazoo, MI, USA). We thank Dr. Jean-Luc Moreau for his assistance in arranging for a gift of moclobemide from Roche and Dr. David Leander for his assistance in arranging for a gift of fluoxetine from Eli Lilly.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • John F. Cryan
    • 1
    • 3
  • Michelle E. Page
    • 1
    • 4
  • Irwin Lucki
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Department of PharmacologyUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  3. 3.Nervous Systems Research, Novartis Institutes for BioMedical SciencesNovartis Pharma AGBaselSwitzerland
  4. 4.Department of NeurosurgeryThomas Jefferson UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA

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