Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is characterized by depression during specific seasons, generally winter. The pathophysiological mechanisms underlying SAD remain elusive due to a limited number of animal models with high availability and validity. Here we show that laboratory C57BL/6J mice display photoperiodic changes in depression-like behavior and brain serotonin content. C57BL/6J mice maintained under short-day conditions, as compared to those under long-day conditions, demonstrated prolonged immobility times in the forced swimming test with lower brain levels of serotonin and its precursor l-tryptophan. Furthermore, photoperiod altered multiple parameters reflective of peripheral metabolism, including the ratio of plasma l-tryptophan to the sum of other large neutral amino acids that compete for transport across the blood-brain barrier, responses of circulating glucose and insulin to glucose load, sucrose intake under restricted feeding condition, and sensitivity of the brain serotonergic system to peripherally administered glucose. These data suggest that the mechanisms underlying SAD involve the brain-peripheral tissue network, and C57BL/6J mice can serve as a powerful tool for investigating the link between seasons and mood.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Biological Psychiatry