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Deficient learning and memory are well-established pathophysiologic features of depression, however, mechanisms of the enhanced learning of aversive experiences associated with this disorder are poorly understood. Currently, neurobiological mechanisms of enhanced retention of aversive memories during depression, and, in particular, their relation to neuroinflammation are unclear. As the association between major depressive disorder and inflammation has been recognized for some time, we aimed to address whether neuroinflammatory changes are involved in enhanced learning of adversity in a depressive state. To study this question, we used a recently described mouse model of enhanced contextual conditioning of aversive memories, the modified forced swim model (modFST). In this model, the classic two-day forced swim is followed by an additional delayed session on Day 5, where increased floating behaviour and upregulated glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3) are context-dependent. Here, increased time spent floating on Day 5, a parameter of enhanced learning of the adverse context, was accompanied by hypercorticosteronemia, increased gene expression of GSK-3α, GSK-3β, c-Fos, cyclooxygenase-1 (COX-1) and pro-inflammatory cytokines interleukin-1 beta (IL-1β), tumor necrosis factor (TNF), and elevated concentrations of protein carbonyl, a marker of oxidative stress, in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus. There were significant correlations between cytokine levels and GSK-3β gene expression. Two-week administration of compounds with antidepressant properties, imipramine (7 mg/kg/day) or thiamine (vitamin B1; 200mg/kg/day) ameliorated most of the modFST-induced changes. Thus, enhanced learning of adverse memories is associated with pro-inflammatory changes that should be considered for optimizing pharmacotherapy of depression associated with enhanced learning of aversive memories.

Original publication




Journal article


Neurobiol Learn Mem

Publication Date



cytokines, enhanced learning of adverse memories, glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3), major depression, mice, oxidative stress