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Depression-like behaviour in neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM)-deficient mice and its reversal by an NCAM-derived peptide, FGL


Dr A. Zharkovsky, as above.


The neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM) plays a pivotal role in brain plasticity. Brain plasticity itself has a crucial role in the development of depression. The aim of this study was to analyze whether NCAM-deficient (NCAM−/−) mice exhibit depression-like behaviour and whether a peptide termed FGL, derived from the NCAM binding site for the fibroblast growth factor (FGF) receptor, is able to reverse the depression-like signs in NCAM−/− mice. Our study showed that NCAM−/− mice demonstrated increased freezing time in the tail-suspension test and reduced preference for sucrose consumption in the sucrose preference test, reduced adult neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus and reduced levels of the phosphorylated cAMP response element-binding protein (pCREB) in the hippocampus. FGL administered acutely or repeatedly reduced depression-like behaviour in NCAM−/− mice without having an effect on their wild-type littermates. Repeated administration of FGL enhanced survival of the newly born neurons in NCAM−/− mice and increased the levels of pCREB in both NCAM+/+ and NCAM−/− mice. In conclusion, our data demonstrate that NCAM deficiency in mice results in a depression-like phenotype which can be reversed by the acute or repeated administration of FGL. The results also suggest a role of the deficit in NCAM signalling through the FGF receptor in depression.