Brain-derived neurotrophic factor
Elevated plus maze
Forced swim test
MEDIAL PREFRONTAL CORTEX
FORCED SWIM TEST
Employing environmental enrichment (EE) provides continual sources of dynamic interaction for animals. Though an established discipline in behavioural science, the consequences of EE on behavioural pharmacological tests have not been extensively examined. The purpose of this study was to examine the consequences of EE (or isolation housing) on a range of behavioural pharmacological tests and brain monoamine and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) expression in the rat. Male rats were randomly assigned to IC (isolation), SC (standard group-housed) or EE conditions. IC and SC animals were housed singly or in groups of four in standard cages, whilst the EE group were housed in groups of four in larger cages enriched with a variety of wooden, cardboard and plastic objects. After 5 weeks of housing, its impact on the effects of diazepam (DZP) in the elevated plus maze (EPM); desipramine (DMI) in the forced swim test (FST) and amphetamine (AMP) effects on homecage activity were assessed. Post-mortem monoamine and BDNF levels were analysed using HPLC and ELISA. EE rats displayed reduced activity in the OFT, however no other differences were found in baseline behaviours. DMI reduced immobility time in the FST, but only for rats housed in IC, while AMP effects were somewhat greater for socially-housed animals than those in IC. There were no housing effects on monoamine or BDNF levels in discreet brain regions. The results suggest that post-weaning enrichment had no significant effect on baseline behaviours or monoamine and BDNF levels, thus it is suitable to implement as a commonplace husbandry practice, however, caution must be taken when investigating responsiveness to psychotropic drugs. (C) 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.