Traumatic Stress Produces Delayed Alterations of Synaptic Plasticity in Basolateral Amygdala.
ABSTRACT: Acute traumatic event exposure is a direct cause of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Amygdala is suggested to be associated with the development of PTSD. In our previous findings, different activation patterns of GABAergic neurons and glutamatergic neurons in early or late stages after stress were found. However, the neural plastic mechanism underlying the role of basolateral amygdala (BLA) in post-traumatic stress disorder remains unclear. Therefore, this study mainly aimed at investigating time-dependent morphologic and electrophysiological changes in BLA during the development of PTSD. We used single prolonged stress (SPS) procedure to establish PTSD model of rats. The rats showed no alterations in anxiety behavior as well as in dendritic spine density or synaptic transmission in BLA 1 day after SPS. However, 10 days after SPS, rats showed enhancement of anxiety behavior, and spine density and frequency of miniature excitatory and inhibitory postsynaptic currents in BLA. Our results suggested that after traumatic stress, BLA displayed delayed increase in both spinogenesis and synaptic transmission, which seemed to facilitate the development of PTSD.
Project description:Females are more likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than males. Also, symptoms of PTSD frequently precede alcohol abuse in females. Stressful, threat-related stimuli are evaluated by the amygdala, which is critical for establishing the emotional salience of environmental stimuli. Ethanol and stress have been shown to modify amygdala excitability, but effects of acute ethanol on neurons of the basolateral amygdala (BLA) in both males and females exposed to stress is unknown. The purpose of this study is to determine stress-induced changes in membrane properties of BLA neurons and to determine how ethanol modulates these changes in male and female rats. Whole-cell recordings were obtained from BLA neurons of both male and female rats exposed to single-prolonged stress (SPS). Neuronal excitability, quantified as the number of action potentials, was determined in current clamp mode by applying a series of depolarizing current steps. Hyperpolarization-activated current (<i>I</i><sub>h</sub>) was elicited in voltage clamp. Excitability and <i>I</i><sub>h</sub> amplitude were determined before and during the superfusion of ethanol (EtOH; 30 mM) in BLA neurons from SPS-treated male and female rats. SPS alone did not alter the firing properties of BLA neurons from either males or females. However, following SPS, BLA neurons from males and females respond differently to ethanol. Superfusion of EtOH (30 mM) inhibited spike firing in BLA neurons from rats exposed to SPS, and EtOH-induced inhibition was greater in females than in males exposed to stress. Also, EtOH (30 mM) selectively decreased <i>I</i><sub>h</sub> amplitude in BLA neurons from SPS-treated male rats from 171 ± 46 pA in (pre-EtOH) control to 53 ± 51 pA in the presence of EtOH (30 mM). EtOH did not reduce <i>I</i><sub>h</sub> in BLA neurons from SPS-treated females. Together, these suggest important sex differences in the physiological responses to EtOH in stress disorders such as PTSD, that have high comorbidity with alcohol use disorders.
Project description:A single episode of acute immobilization stress has previously been shown to trigger a delayed onset of anxiety-like behavior and spinogenesis in the basolateral amygdala (BLA) of rats. Spurred on by a seemingly paradoxical observation in which even a modest increase in corticosterone (CORT), caused by a single vehicle injection before stress, could dampen the delayed effects of stress, we hypothesized a protective role for glucocorticoids against stress.We tested this hypothesis by analyzing how manipulations in CORT levels modulate delayed increase in anxiety-like behavior of rats on the elevated plus-maze 10 days after acute stress. We also investigated the cellular correlates of different levels of anxiety under different CORT conditions by quantifying spine density on Golgi-stained BLA principal neurons.CORT in drinking water for 12 hours preceding acute stress prevented delayed increase in anxiety rather than exacerbating it. Conversely, vehicle injection failed to prevent the anxiogenic effect of stress in bilaterally adrenalectomized rats. However, when CORT was restored in adrenalectomized rats by injection, the delayed anxiogenic effect of stress was once again blocked. Finally, high and low anxiety states were accompanied by high and low levels of BLA spine density.Our findings suggest that the presence of elevated levels of CORT at the time of acute stress confers protection against the delayed enhancing effect of stress on BLA synaptic connectivity and anxiety-like behavior. These observations are consistent with clinical reports on the protective effects of glucocorticoids against the development of posttraumatic symptoms triggered by traumatic stress.
Project description:Even a brief exposure to severe stress strengthens synaptic connectivity days later in the amygdala, a brain area implicated in the affective symptoms of stress-related psychiatric disorders. However, little is known about the synaptic signaling mechanisms during stress that eventually culminate in its delayed impact on the amygdala. Hence, we investigated early stress-induced changes in amygdalar synaptic signaling in order to prevent its delayed effects. Whole-cell recordings in basolateral amygdala (BLA) slices from rats revealed higher frequency of miniature excitatory postsynaptic currents (mEPSCs) immediately after 2-h immobilization stress. This was replicated by inhibition of cannabinoid receptors (CB1R), suggesting a role for endocannabinoid (eCB) signaling. Stress also reduced N-arachidonoylethanolamine (AEA), an endogenous ligand of CB1R. Since stress-induced activation of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) reduces AEA, we confirmed that oral administration of an FAAH inhibitor during stress prevents the increase in synaptic excitation in the BLA soon after stress. Although stress also caused an immediate reduction in synaptic inhibition, this was not prevented by FAAH inhibition. Strikingly, FAAH inhibition during the traumatic stressor was also effective 10 d later on the delayed manifestation of synaptic strengthening in BLA neurons, preventing both enhanced mEPSC frequency and increased dendritic spine-density. Thus, oral administration of an FAAH inhibitor during a brief stress prevents the early synaptic changes that eventually build up to hyperexcitability in the amygdala. This framework is of therapeutic relevance because of growing interest in targeting eCB signaling to prevent the gradual development of emotional symptoms and underlying amygdalar dysfunction triggered by traumatic stress.
Project description:Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a chronic, debilitating mental illness marked by abnormal fear responses and deficits in extinction of fear memories. The pathophysiology of PTSD is linked to decreased activation of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC). This study aims to investigate underlying functional changes in synaptic drive and intrinsic excitability of pyramidal neurons in the rodent homolog of the vmPFC, the infralimbic cortex (IL), following exposure to single prolonged stress (SPS), a paradigm that mimics core symptoms of PTSD in rats. Rats were exposed to SPS and allowed 1 week of recovery, following which brain slices containing the PFC were prepared for whole-cell patch clamp recordings from layer V pyramidal neurons in the IL. Our results indicate that SPS reduces spontaneous excitatory synaptic drive to pyramidal neurons. In addition, SPS decreases the intrinsic membrane excitability of IL PFC pyramidal cells, as indicated by an increase in rheobase, decrease in input resistance, hyperpolarization of resting membrane potential, and a reduction in repetitive firing rate. Our results suggest that SPS causes a lasting reduction in PFC activity, supporting a body of evidence linking traumatic stress with prefrontal hypoactivity.
Project description:Even a single 2-hour episode of immobilization stress is known to trigger anxiety-like behavior and increase spine-density in the basolateral amygdala (BLA) of rats 10 days later. This delayed build-up of morphological and behavioral effects offers a stress-free time window of intervention after acute stress, which we used to test a protective role for glucocorticoids against stress. We observed that post-stress corticosterone, given 1 day after acute stress in drinking water, reversed enhanced anxiety-like behavior 10 days later. Quantification of spine-density on Golgi-stained BLA principal neurons showed that the same intervention also prevented the increase in spine numbers in the amygdala, at the same delayed time-point. Further, stress elevated serum corticosterone levels in rats that received vehicle in the drinking water. However, when stress was followed 24 h later by corticosterone in the drinking water, the surge in corticosterone was prevented. Together, these observations suggest that corticosterone, delivered through drinking water even 24 h after acute stress, is capable of reversing the delayed enhancing effects on BLA synaptic connectivity and anxiety-like behavior. Strikingly, although the immobilization-induced surge in corticosterone by itself has delayed detrimental effects on amygdalar structure and function, there exists a window of opportunity even after stress to mitigate its impact with a second surge of exogenously administered corticosterone. This provides a framework in the amygdala for analyzing how the initial physiological and endocrine processes triggered by traumatic stress eventually give rise to debilitating emotional symptoms, as well as the protective effects of glucocorticoids against their development.
Project description:Hyperarousal and sleep disturbances are common, debilitating symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD patients also exhibit abnormalities in quantitative electroencephalography (qEEG) power spectra during wake as well as rapid eye movement (REM) and non-REM (NREM) sleep. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), the first-line pharmacological treatment for PTSD, provide modest remediation of the hyperarousal symptoms in PTSD patients, but have little to no effect on the sleep-wake architecture deficits. Development of novel therapeutics for these sleep-wake architecture deficits is limited by a lack of relevant animal models. Thus, the present study investigated whether single prolonged stress (SPS), a rodent model of traumatic stress, induces PTSD-like sleep-wake and qEEG spectral power abnormalities that correlate with changes in central serotonin (5-HT) and neuropeptide Y (NPY) signaling in rats. Rats were implanted with telemetric recording devices to continuously measure EEG before and after SPS treatment. A second cohort of rats was used to measure SPS-induced changes in plasma corticosterone, 5-HT utilization, and NPY expression in brain regions that comprise the neural fear circuitry. SPS caused sustained dysregulation of NREM and REM sleep, accompanied by state-dependent alterations in qEEG power spectra indicative of cortical hyperarousal. These changes corresponded with acute induction of the corticosterone receptor co-chaperone FK506-binding protein 51 and delayed reductions in 5-HT utilization and NPY expression in the amygdala. SPS represents a preclinical model of PTSD-related sleep-wake and qEEG disturbances with underlying alterations in neurotransmitter systems known to modulate both sleep-wake architecture and the neural fear circuitry.
Project description:Single prolonged stress (SPS) has been used to examine mechanisms via which stress exposure leads to post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms. SPS induces fear extinction retention deficits, but neural circuits critical for mediating these deficits are unknown. To address this gap, we examined the effect of SPS on neural activity in brain regions critical for extinction retention (i.e., fear extinction circuit). These were the ventral hippocampus (vHipp), dorsal hippocampus (dHipp), basolateral amygdala (BLA), prelimbic cortex (PL), and infralimbic cortex (IL). SPS or control rats were fear conditioned then subjected to extinction training and testing. Subsets of rats were euthanized after extinction training, extinction testing, or immediate removal from the housing colony (baseline condition) to assay c-Fos levels (measure of neural activity) in respective brain region. SPS induced extinction retention deficits. During extinction training SPS disrupted enhanced IL neural activity and inhibited BLA neural activity. SPS also disrupted inhibited BLA and vHipp neural activity during extinction testing. Statistical analyses suggested that SPS disrupted functional connectivity within the dHipp during extinction training and increased functional connectivity between the BLA and vHipp during extinction testing. Our findings suggest that SPS induces extinction retention deficits by disrupting both excitatory and inhibitory changes in neural activity within the fear extinction circuit and inducing changes in functional connectivity within the Hipp and BLA.
Project description:Recurrent panic attacks (PAs) are a common feature of panic disorder (PD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Several distinct brain regions are involved in the regulation of panic responses, such as perifornical hypothalamus (PeF), periaqueductal gray, amygdala and frontal cortex. We have previously shown that inhibition of GABA synthesis in the PeF produces panic-vulnerable rats. Here, we investigate the mechanisms by which a panic-vulnerable state could lead to persistent fear. We first show that optogenetic activation of glutamatergic terminals from the PeF to the basolateral amygdala (BLA) enhanced the acquisition, delayed the extinction and induced the persistence of fear responses 3 weeks later, confirming a functional PeF-amygdala pathway involved in fear learning. Similar to optogenetic activation of PeF, panic-prone rats also exhibited delayed extinction. Next, we demonstrate that panic-prone rats had altered inhibitory and enhanced excitatory synaptic transmission of the principal neurons, and reduced protein levels of metabotropic glutamate type 2 receptor (mGluR2) in the BLA. Application of an mGluR2-positive allosteric modulator (PAM) reduced glutamate neurotransmission in the BLA slices from panic-prone rats. Treating panic-prone rats with mGluR2 PAM blocked sodium lactate (NaLac)-induced panic responses and normalized fear extinction deficits. Finally, in a subset of patients with comorbid PD, treatment with mGluR2 PAM resulted in complete remission of panic symptoms. These data demonstrate that a panic-prone state leads to specific reduction in mGluR2 function within the amygdala network and facilitates fear, and mGluR2 PAMs could be a targeted treatment for panic symptoms in PD and PTSD patients.
Project description:Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disease that can form following exposure to a traumatic event. Acupuncture has been proposed as a beneficial treatment for PTSD, but the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. The present study investigated whether acupuncture improves depression- and anxiety-like behaviors induced using a single prolonged stress (SPS) as a PTSD rat model. In addition, we investigated whether the effects were mediated by increased mTOR activity and its downstream signaling components, which contribute to protein synthesis required for synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus. We found that acupuncture at HT8 significantly alleviated both depression- and anxiety-like behaviors induced by SPS in rats, as assessed by the forced swimming, elevated plus maze, and open field tests; this alleviation was blocked by rapamycin. The effects of acupuncture were equivalent to those exerted by fluoxetine. Acupuncture regulated protein translation in the mTOR signaling pathway and enhanced the activation of synaptic proteins, PSD95, Syn1, and GluR1 in the hippocampus. These results suggest that acupuncture exerts antidepressant and anxiolytic effects on PTSD-related symptoms by increasing protein synthesis required for synaptic plasticity via the mTOR pathway in the hippocampus. Acupuncture may be a promising treatment for patients with PTSD and play a role as an alternative PTSD treatment.
Project description:Exposure to extreme stress can trigger the development of major depressive disorder (MDD) as well as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The molecular mechanisms underlying the structural and functional alterations within corticolimbic brain regions, including the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and amygdala of individuals subjected to traumatic stress, remain unknown. In this study, we show that serum and glucocorticoid regulated kinase 1 (SGK1) expression is down-regulated in the postmortem PFC of PTSD subjects. Furthermore, we demonstrate that inhibition of SGK1 in the rat medial PFC results in helplessness- and anhedonic-like behaviors in rodent models. These behavioral changes are accompanied by abnormal dendritic spine morphology and synaptic dysfunction. Together, the results are consistent with the possibility that altered SGK1 signaling contributes to the behavioral and morphological phenotypes associated with traumatic stress pathophysiology.