Tactile Stimulation on Adulthood Modifies the HPA Axis, Neurotrophic Factors, and GFAP Signaling Reverting Depression-Like Behavior in Female Rats

  • Kr. Roversi
  • Caren Tatiane de David AntoniazziEmail author
  • L. H. Milanesi
  • H. Z. Rosa
  • M. Kronbauer
  • D. R. Rossato
  • T. Duarte
  • M. M. Duarte
  • Marilise E. BurgerEmail author


Depression is a common psychiatric disease which pharmacological treatment relieves symptoms, but still far from ideal. Tactile stimulation (TS) has shown beneficial influences in neuropsychiatric disorders, but the mechanism of action is not clear. Here, we evaluated the TS influence when applied on adult female rats previously exposed to a reserpine-induced depression-like animal model. Immediately after reserpine model (1 mg/kg/mL, 1×/day, for 3 days), female Wistar rats were submitted to TS (15 min, 3×/day, for 8 days) or not (unhandled). Imipramine (10 mg/kg/mL) was used as positive control. After behavioral assessments, animals were euthanized to collect plasma and prefrontal cortex (PFC). Behavioral observations in the forced swimming test, splash test, and sucrose preference confirmed the reserpine-induced depression-like behavior, which was reversed by TS. Our findings showed that reserpine increased plasma levels of adrenocorticotropic hormone and corticosterone, decreased brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and tropomyosin receptor kinase B, and increased proBDNF immunoreactivity in the PFC, which were also reversed by TS. Moreover, TS reestablished glial fibrillary acidic protein and glucocorticoid receptor levels, decreased by reserpine in PFC, while glial cell line–derived neurotrophic factor was increased by TS per se. Our outcomes are showing that TS applied in adulthood exerts a beneficial influence in depression-like behaviors, modulating the HPA axis and regulating neurotrophic factors more effectively than imipramine. Based on this, our proposal is that TS, in the long term, could be considered a new therapeutic strategy for neuropsychiatric disorders improvement in adult life, which may represent an interesting contribution to conventional pharmacological treatment.


Reserpine Handling BDNF Hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis 


Funding Information

This study was financially supported by the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior - Brazil (CAPES) - Finance Code 001. Authors are grateful to Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq, Brazil); Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado do Rio Grande do Sul (FAPERGS, Brazil) and PRPGP-UFSM (PROAP).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Research Involving Animals

All procedures were approved by the Animal Ethics Committee of the Federal University of Santa Maria and were carried out according to the Guidelines for Animal Experiments.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centro de Ciências da Saúde Programa de Pós-Graduação em FarmacologiaUniversidade Federal de Santa Maria (UFSM)Santa MariaBrazil
  2. 2.Departamento de Fisiologia e FarmacologiaUFSMSanta MariaBrazil
  3. 3.Universidade Luterana do Brasil (ULBRA)Santa MariaBrazil

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