Depression, cognitive deficits, and sleep disturbances are common and often severe in menopausal women. Hormone replacement cannot effectively alleviate these symptoms and sometimes elicits life-threatening adverse reactions. Exploring effective therapies to target psychological problems is urgently needed. In this work, we developed a mouse model of menopause by bilateral ovariectomies (OVXs) and investigated whether menopausal mental symptoms can be ameliorated by psychostimulant modafinil (MOD) as well as explored the underlying mechanisms. At ~3 weeks after OVXs, mice got daily intraperitoneal administrations of MOD at the beginning of the active phase. Several behavioral tests and electroencephalogram (EEG) recordings were conducted. Electrophysiological and immunohistochemical experiments were carried out to evaluate the synaptic plasticity and neurogenesis, respectively. We found that chronic MOD administration in OVX mice significantly decreased immobility time. The spatial memory performance of OVX mice improved significantly in response to MOD administration in the Morris water-maze test. The OVX mice were characterized by an attenuation of hippocampal synaptic transmission and synaptic long-term potentiation and had fewer 5-ethynyl-2′-deoxyuridine-labeled cells in the dentate gyrus, which were restored after MOD administration. Antagonists of dopamine D and D receptors and GABA receptor agonists were involved in MOD-exerted anti-depressant actions and augments of hippocampal neurogenesis in OVX mice. Moreover, night-dosed MOD therapy significantly promoted the night-time delta-band EEG power during wakefulness and the day-time rapid eye movement sleep amount, which were significantly reduced by OVXs. Collectively, these findings suggest that MOD is a promising therapeutic candidate for menopausal women.
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