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Controllable stress elicits circuit-specific patterns of prefrontal plasticity in males, but not females.


ABSTRACT: Actual or perceived behavioral control during a traumatic event can promote resilience against future adversity, but the long-term cellular and circuit mechanisms by which this protection is conferred have not been identified. Clinical outcomes following trauma exposure differ in men and women, and, therefore, it is especially important in preclinical research to dissect these processes in both males and females. In male adult rats, an experience with behavioral control over tail shock ("escapable stress", ES) has been shown to block the neurochemical and behavioral outcomes produced by later uncontrollable tail shock ("inescapable stress", IS), a phenomenon termed "behavioral immunization". Here, we determined whether behavioral immunization is present in females. Unlike males, the stress-buffering effects of behavioral control were absent in female rats. We next examined the effects of ES and IS on spine morphology of dorsal raphe nucleus (DRN)-projecting prelimbic (PL) neurons, a circuit critical to the immunizing effects of ES in males. In males, IS elicited broad, non-specific alterations in PL spine size, while ES elicited PL-DRN circuit-specific spine changes. In contrast, females exhibited broad, non-specific spine enlargement after ES but only minor alterations after IS. These data provide evidence for a circuit-specific mechanism of structural plasticity that could underlie sexual divergence in the protective effects of behavioral control.

SUBMITTER: Baratta MV 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC6565440 | BioStudies | 2019-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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