Antidepressant-like effects of transcorneal electrical stimulation in rat models

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

4 Scopus Citations
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  • Wing Shan Yu
  • Anna Chung-Kwan Tse
  • Li Guan
  • Jennifer Lok Yu Chiu
  • Shawn Zheng Kai Tan
  • Sharafuddin Khairuddin
  • Amy Cheuk Yin Lo
  • Man-Lung Fung
  • Ying-Shing Chan
  • Lee Wei Lim

Related Research Unit(s)


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)843-856
Journal / PublicationBrain Stimulation
Issue number3
Online published28 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - May 2022



Background: Given that visual impairment is bi-directionally associated with depression, we examined whether transcorneal electrical stimulation (TES), a non-invasive treatment for visual disorders, can ameliorate depressive symptoms. 
Objective: The putative antidepressant-like effects of TES and the underlying mechanisms were investigated in an S334ter-line-3 rat model of retinal degeneration and a rat model of chronic unpredictable stress (CUS). 
Methods: TES was administered daily for 1 week in S334ter-line-3 and CUS rats. The effects of TES on behavioral parameters, plasma corticosterone levels, and different aspects of neuroplasticity, including neurogenesis, synaptic plasticity, and apoptosis, were examined. 
Results: In S334ter-line-3 rats, TES induced anxiolytic and antidepressant-like behaviors in the cylinder, open field, home cage emergence, and forced swim tests. In the CUS rat model, TES induced hedonic-like behavior and decreased behavioral despair, which were accompanied by reduced plasma corticosterone levels and upregulated expression of neurogenesis-related genes. Treatment with the neurogenesis blocker temozolomide only inhibited the hedonic-like effect of TES, suggesting the antidepressant-like effects of TES were mediated through both neurogenesis-dependent and -independent mechanisms. Furthermore, TES was found to normalize the protein expression of synaptic markers and apoptotic Bcl-2-associated X protein in the hippocampus and amygdala in the CUS rat model. The improvements in neuroplasticity may involve protein kinase B (AKT) and protein kinase A (PKA) signaling pathways in the hippocampus and amygdala, respectively, as demonstrated by the altered pAKT/AKT and pPKA/PKA ratios. 
Conclusion: The overall findings suggest a possible neuroplasticity mechanism of the antidepressant-like effects of TES.

Research Area(s)

  • Anxiety, Chronic unpredictable stress, Depression, Retinal degeneration, Transcorneal electrical stimulation

Citation Format(s)

Antidepressant-like effects of transcorneal electrical stimulation in rat models. / Yu, Wing Shan; Tse, Anna Chung-Kwan; Guan, Li; Chiu, Jennifer Lok Yu; Tan, Shawn Zheng Kai; Khairuddin, Sharafuddin; Agadagba, Stephen Kugbere; Lo, Amy Cheuk Yin; Fung, Man-Lung; Chan, Ying-Shing; Chan, Leanne Lai Hang; Lim, Lee Wei.

In: Brain Stimulation, Vol. 15, No. 3, 05.2022, p. 843-856.

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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