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Depression is a serious mental illness that affects one in fifteen adults. However, 30% of patients with depression do not reach the treatment goal of full recovery, showing the need for more adequate treatments. The COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to elevated levels of depression. This experiment investigated a novel animal model for depression caused by the removal from a high enrichment environment. Two anxiety-like behaviors, open and closed arm entries, were measured in the Elevated Plus Maze (EPM) to gather behavioral differences. Removal of enrichment caused female rats to enter fewer open arms, which indicated that they were more anxious. Females entered more open and closed arms than males, which shows innate sex differences. Levels of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine (NE), dopamine (DA), and serotonin (5-HT) were measured in the motor cortex (MC) and orbitofrontal cortex (OFC). Reduced females had higher levels of 5-HT and a trending increase in NE in the OFC compared to control females which suggests that these monoamines could underlie the behavioral differences seen in the EPM. The novel study utilized behavioral and neurochemical analysis to evaluate the validity of an animal model for depression.



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Evaluation of a Novel Reduced Enrichment Rat Model of Depression Using Elevated Plus Maze and Cortical Monoamine Analysis