We previously reported that Wistar Kyoto rats, an animal model of depression, have a characteristically abnormal serine metabolism in the brain, i.e., lower serine and cystathionine, which is a metabolite of serine, concentrations in the brain. To explore the mechanism underlying this abnormality, the expression of cystathionine β-synthase and serine racemase, which are the enzymes involved in the serine metabolism, was investigated in the cerebellum and hippocampus of Wistar and Wistar Kyoto rats. Wistar Kyoto rats exhibited a significantly lower mRNA expression of cystathionine β-synthase in the cerebellum in comparison with Wistar rats, while expression levels in the hippocampus did not differ between strains. Previous study indicated that the reduction of cystathionine β-synthase in the brain induced cerebellar aplasia in mice. Therefore, the cerebellar size was compared between Wistar rats and Wistar Kyoto rats. Wistar Kyoto rats displayed a lower ratio of cerebellum weight to whole-brain weight compared with Wistar rats of the same generation or similar body weight, suggesting that Wistar Kyoto rats exhibit smaller cerebellum. These results suggest that the lower mRNA expression of cystathionine β-synthase in the cerebellum and the smaller size of cerebellum may be related to the depression-like behavior in Wistar Kyoto rats.
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