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Abstract

Emerging evidence suggests that hierarchical status provide vulnerability to develop stress-induced depression. Energy metabolic changes in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) were recently related to hierarchical status and vulnerability to develop depression-like behavior. Acetyl-L-carnitine (LAC), a mitochondria-boosting supplement, has shown promising antidepressant-like effects opening therapeutic opportunities for restoring energy balance in depressed patients. We investigated the metabolic impact in the NAc of antidepressant LAC treatment in chronically-stressed mice using (1)H-magnetic resonance spectroscopy ((1)H-MRS). High rank, but not low rank, mice, as assessed with the tube test, showed behavioral vulnerability to stress, supporting a higher susceptibility of high social rank mice to develop depressive-like behaviors. High rank mice also showed reduced levels of several energy-related metabolites in the NAc that were counteracted by LAC treatment. Therefore, we reveal a metabolic signature in the NAc for antidepressant-like effects of LAC in vulnerable mice characterized by restoration of stress-induced neuroenergetics alterations and lipid function.

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