Front Pharmacol. 2021 Jun 28;12:694510. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2021.694510. eCollection 2021.
This study evaluated the effects of cannabidiol (CBD) and/or sertraline (STR) on behavioral and gene expression alterations induced by a new chronic animal model of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). C57BL/6J male mice were repeatedly exposed to physical and psychogenic alternate stressful stimuli. Fear-related memory and anxiety-like behaviors were evaluated. The effects of the administration of CBD (20 mg/kg, i.p.) and/or STR (10 mg/kg, p.o.) were analyzed on behavioral and gene expression changes induced by the model of PTSD. Gene expression alterations of targets related with stress regulation, endocannabinoid and serotonergic systems were analyzed by real-time PCR. The results revealed an increased and long-lasting fear-related memory and anxiety-like behaviors in mice exposed to the animal model of PTSD. Treatment with CBD improved these behaviors in PTSD animals, effects that were significantly potentiated when combined with STR. Gene expression analyses revealed a long-term increase of corticotropin releasing factor (Crf) that was significantly normalized with the combination CBD plus STR. Cannabinoid receptors (Cnr1 and Cnr2) were up regulated in PTSD mice whereas the serotonin transporter (Slc6a4) was reduced. Interestingly, CBD and STR alone or combined induced a significant and marked increase of Slc6a4 gene expression. These results point out the cooperative action of the combination CBD plus STR to enhance fear extinction and reduce anxiety-like behaviors, normalizing gene expression alterations in this animal model of PTSD and suggesting that the combination of CBD with STR deserves to be further explored for the treatment of patients with PTSD.