Anxiolytic and anti-stress effects of acute administration of acetyl-L-carnitine in zebrafish.
Studies have suggested that oxidative stress may contribute to the pathogenesis of mental disorders. In this context, molecules with antioxidant activity may be promising agents in the treatment of these deleterious conditions. Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC) is a multi-target molecule that modulates the uptake of acetyl-CoA into the mitochondria during fatty acid oxidation, acetylcholine production, protein, and membrane phospholipid synthesis, capable of promoting neurogenesis in case of neuronal death. Moreover, neurochemical effects of ALC include modulation of brain energy and synaptic transmission of multiple neurotransmitters, including expression of type 2 metabotropic glutamate (mGlu2) receptors. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of ALC in zebrafish by examining behavioral and biochemical parameters relevant to anxiety and mood disorders in zebrafish. ALC presented anxiolytic effects in both novel tank and light/dark tests and prevented the anxiety-like behavior induced by an acute stressor (net chasing). Furthermore, ALC was able to prevent the lipid peroxidation induced by acute stress in the zebrafish brain. The data presented here warrant further investigation of ALC as a potential agent in the treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders. Its good tolerability also subsidizes the additional studies necessary to assess its therapeutic potential in clinical settings.