Anxiolytic-like properties of melatonin receptor agonists in mice: involvement of mt1 and/or MT2 receptors in the regulation of emotional responsiveness.

PMID 10884567


The anxiolytic-like properties of melatonin have been established in rodents. The present study investigated the possible involvement of melatonin receptors/binding sites in the regulation of emotional responsiveness in mice, using an mt1/MT2 receptor specific agonist (S 23478) and two specific ligands of MT3 binding sites with agonistic properties (N-acetylserotonin (NAS) and 5-methoxycarbonylamino N-acetyltryptamine (5-MCA-NAT)). We examined the behavioural effects of these compounds in C3H/He mice confronted with two anxiety models: the free-exploratory test, in which C3H/He mice present neophobic reactions ("trait" anxiety), and the light/dark choice test, which is an unconditioned conflict test (inducing "state" anxiety). Melatonin and S 23478 decreased anxious reactions in both the free-exploratory test (5-25 mg/kg) and the light/dark choice test (melatonin: 20 mg/kg; S 23478: 10-20-40 mg/kg). NAS exerted anxiolytic-like effects only at a dose of 35 mg/kg in the free-exploratory test and at a dose of 40 mg/kg in the light/dark choice test. Finally, 5-MCA-NAT was devoid of anxiolytic-like effects in both tests. These results suggest that the anxiolytic properties of melatonin could involve the activation of mt1 and/or MT2 receptors rather than of the MT3 binding site.