Although selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are first-line treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) patients, their therapeutic efficacy is limited. Childhood adversities are considered a risk factor for developing PTSD in adulthood but may trigger PTSD without additional trauma in some individuals. Nevertheless, just as childhood is considered a vulnerable period it may also be an effective period for preventive treatment. Using a rat model of childhood-induced PTSD, pre-pubertal stress (juvenile stress, JVS), we compared the therapeutic effects of fluoxetine and examined the effectiveness of 1 month of fluoxetine treatment following JVS and into adulthood compared to treatment in adulthood. Since not all individuals develop PTSD following a trauma, comparing only group means is not the adequate type of analysis. We employed a behavioral profiling approach, which analyzes individual differences compared to the normal behavior of a control group. Animals exposed to JVS exhibited a higher proportion of affected animals as measured using the elevated plus maze 8 weeks after JVS. Fluoxetine treatment following the JVS significantly decreased the proportion of affected animals as measured in adulthood. Fluoxetine treatment in adulthood was not effective. The results support the notion that childhood is not only a vulnerable period but also an effective period for preventive treatment.
Translational Psychiatry – Springer Journals
Published: Nov 30, 2017
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