Effects of long-lasting social isolation and re-socialization on cognitive performance and brain activity: a longitudinal study in Octodon degus.
ABSTRACT: Social isolation is considered a stressful situation that results in increased physiological reactivity to novel stimuli, altered behaviour, and impaired brain function. Here, we investigated the effects of long-term social isolation on working memory, spatial learning/memory, hippocampal synaptic transmission, and synaptic proteins in the brain of adult female and male Octodon degus. The strong similarity between degus and humans in social, metabolic, biochemical, and cognitive aspects, makes it a unique animal model that can be highly applicable for further social, emotional, cognitive, and aging studies. These animals were socially isolated from post-natal and post-weaning until adulthood. We also evaluated if re-socialization would be able to compensate for reactive stress responses in chronically stressed animals. We showed that long-term social isolation impaired the HPA axis negative feedback loop, which can be related to cognitive deficits observed in chronically stressed animals. Notably, re-socialization restored it. In addition, we measured physiological aspects of synaptic transmission, where chronically stressed males showed more efficient transmission but deficient plasticity, as the reverse was true on females. Finally, we analysed synaptic and canonical Wnt signalling proteins in the hypothalamus, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex, finding both sex- and brain structure-dependent modulation, including transient and permanent changes dependent on stress treatment.
Project description:Loneliness affects group-living mammals triggering a cascade of stress-dependent physiological disorders. Indeed, social isolation stress is a major risk factor for several neuropsychiatric disorders including anxiety and depression. Furthermore, social isolation has a negative impact on health and fitness. However, the neurobiological consequences of long-term chronic social isolation stress (LTCSIS) manifested during the adulthood of affected individuals are not fully understood. Our study assessed the impact of LTCSIS and social buffering (re-socialization) on the behavioural performance and social-affective brain-related proteins in diurnal, social, and long-lived Octodon degus (degus). Thereby, anxiety-like and social behaviour, and social recognition memory were assessed in male and female animals subjected to a variety of stress-inducing treatments applied from post-natal and post-weaning until their adulthood. Additionally, we evaluated the relationship among LTCSIS, Oxytocin levels (OXT), and OXT-Ca2+-signalling proteins in the hypothalamus, the hippocampus, and the prefrontal cortex. Our findings suggest that LTCSIS induces anxiety like-behaviour and impairs social novelty preference whereas sociability is unaffected. On the other hand, re-socialization can revert both isolation-induced anxiety and social memory impairment. However, OXT and its signalling remained reduced in the abovementioned brain areas, suggesting that the observed changes in OXT-Ca2+ pathway proteins were permanent in male and female degus. Based on these findings, we conclude degus experience social stress differently, suggesting the existence of sex-related mechanisms to cope with specific adaptive challenges.
Project description:Previous genomic studies in humans indicate that SIRT1, a nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+)-dependent protein deacetylase, is involved in anxiety and depression, but the mechanisms are unclear. We previously showed that SIRT1 is highly activated in the nuclear fraction of the dentate gyrus of the chronically stressed animals and inhibits memory formation and increases anhedonic behavior during chronic stress, but specific functional targets of cytoplasmic SIRT1 are unknown. Here, we demonstrate that SIRT1 activity rapidly modulates intrinsic and synaptic properties of the dentate gyrus granule cells and anxiety behaviors through deacetylation of BK channel ? subunits in control animals. Chronic stress decreases BK? channel membrane expression, and SIRT1 activity has no rapid effects on synaptic transmission or intrinsic properties in the chronically stressed animal. These results suggest SIRT1 activity rapidly modulates the physiological function of the dentate gyrus, and this modulation participates in the maladaptive stress response.
Project description:Chronic stress could trigger maladaptive changes associated with stress-related mental disorders; however, the underlying mechanisms remain elusive. In this study, we found that exposing juvenile male rats to repeated stress significantly impaired the temporal order recognition memory, a cognitive process controlled by the prefrontal cortex (PFC). Concomitantly, significantly reduced AMPAR- and NMDAR-mediated synaptic transmission and glutamate receptor expression were found in PFC pyramidal neurons from repeatedly stressed animals. All these effects relied on activation of glucocorticoid receptors and the subsequent enhancement of ubiquitin/proteasome-mediated degradation of GluR1 and NR1 subunits, which was controlled by the E3 ubiquitin ligase Nedd4-1 and Fbx2, respectively. Inhibition of proteasomes or knockdown of Nedd4-1 and Fbx2 in PFC prevented the loss of glutamatergic responses and recognition memory in stressed animals. Our results suggest that repeated stress dampens PFC glutamatergic transmission by facilitating glutamate receptor turnover, which causes the detrimental effect on PFC-dependent cognitive processes.
Project description:It has been reported that social isolation stress could be a key factor that leads to cognitive deficit for both humans and rodent models. However, detailed mechanisms are not yet clear. ADAR1 (Adenosine deaminase acting on RNA) is an enzyme involved in RNA editing that has a close relation to cognitive function. We have hypothesized that social isolation stress may impact the expression of ADAR1 in the brain of mice with cognitive deficit. To test our hypothesis, we evaluated the cognition ability of mice isolated for different durations (2, 4, and 8 weeks) using object recognition and object location tests; we also measured ADAR1 expression in hippocampus and cortex using immunohistochemistry and western blot. Our study showed that social isolation stress induced spatial and non-spatial cognition deficits of the tested mice. In addition, social isolation significantly increased both the immunoreactivity and protein expression of ADAR1 (p110) in the hippocampus and frontal cortex. Furthermore, re-socialization could not only recover the cognition deficits, but also bring ADAR1 (p110) immunoreactivity of hippocampus and frontal cortex, as well as ADAR1 (p110) protein expression of hippocampus back to the normal level for the isolated mice in adolescence. In conclusion, social isolation stress significantly increases ADAR1 (p110) expression in the hippocampus and frontal cortex of the mice with cognitive deficit. This finding may open a window to better understand the reasons (e.g., epigenetic change) that are responsible for social isolation-induced cognitive deficit and help the development of novel therapies for the resulted diseases.
Project description:Gene expression profiling was carried out on peripheral blood leukocytes from 14 healthy older adults. The primary research question is whether gene expression differs in individuals experiencing chronically high levels of social isolation (by UCLA Loneliness Scale) vs chronically low levels of social isolation. Experiment Overall Design: Gene expression profiling was carried out on peripheral blood leukocytes from 14 healthy older adults. The primary research question is whether gene expression differs in individuals experiencing chronically high levels of social isolation (by UCLA Loneliness Scale) vs chronically low levels of social isolation.
Project description:Gene expression profiling was carried out on peripheral blood leukocytes from 14 healthy older adults. The primary research question is whether gene expression differs in individuals experiencing chronically high levels of social isolation (by UCLA Loneliness Scale) vs chronically low levels of social isolation. Keywords: Risk prediction Overall design: Gene expression profiling was carried out on peripheral blood leukocytes from 14 healthy older adults. The primary research question is whether gene expression differs in individuals experiencing chronically high levels of social isolation (by UCLA Loneliness Scale) vs chronically low levels of social isolation.
Project description:Chronic stress evokes profound structural and molecular changes in the hippocampus, which may underlie spatial memory deficits. Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) and CRH receptor 1 (CRHR1) mediate some of the rapid effects of stress on dendritic spine morphology and modulate learning and memory, thus providing a potential molecular basis for impaired synaptic plasticity and spatial memory by repeated stress exposure. Using adult male mice with CRHR1 conditionally inactivated in the forebrain regions, we investigated the role of CRH-CRHR1 signaling in the effects of chronic social defeat stress on spatial memory, the dendritic morphology of hippocampal CA3 pyramidal neurons, and the hippocampal expression of nectin-3, a synaptic cell adhesion molecule important in synaptic remodeling. In chronically stressed wild-type mice, spatial memory was disrupted, and the complexity of apical dendrites of CA3 neurons reduced. In contrast, stressed mice with forebrain CRHR1 deficiency exhibited normal dendritic morphology of CA3 neurons and mild impairments in spatial memory. Additionally, we showed that the expression of nectin-3 in the CA3 area was regulated by chronic stress in a CRHR1-dependent fashion and associated with spatial memory and dendritic complexity. Moreover, forebrain CRHR1 deficiency prevented the down-regulation of hippocampal glucocorticoid receptor expression by chronic stress but induced increased body weight gain during persistent stress exposure. These findings underscore the important role of forebrain CRH-CRHR1 signaling in modulating chronic stress-induced cognitive, structural and molecular adaptations, with implications for stress-related psychiatric disorders.
Project description:Sympathomimetics are effective, centrally acting drugs that induce weight loss through their potent anorexic and locomotor properties. We reported that sympathomimetics antagonize catecholamine-dependent, alpha-2 adrenergic receptor-dependent signal transduction mediated by chloride/bicarbonate transport. We posit that other drugs that target cellular chloride/bicarbonate antiport would similarly demonstrate anorectic properties, induce locomotion, and diminish weight gain. Male and female inbred mice were housed in groups or stressed by prolonged social isolation. Mice consumed either normal chow or a high fat, high fructose corn syrup, (i.e. "Western") diet. To inhibit chloride/bicarbonate transport, acetazolamide (ACT, 3 mM) was added to the drinking water. Rodents underwent evaluations of exploratory locomotion and learning with the object recognition test. Mice consuming a "Western" diet gain more weight compared to mice given a normal diet. When placed on a "Western" diet, stressed mice gained weight more rapidly than unstressed. The body weight of mice fed a normal diet with ACT was significantly reduced compared to control mice not given ACT (weight, g ± SEM), 23.7 ± 0.8 v. 21.0 ± 0.5, p = 0.02. ACT did not reduce weight gain in animals chronically maintained on a "Western" diet. Compared to unstressed mice, living in social isolation reduced spontaneous exploratory locomotion time, an indicator of anxiety, in male mice (sec +SEM) from 22.8 ± 3.5 to 12.2 ± 2.1 (p < 0.001), and in female mice, from 47 ± 5.7 to 19.6 ± 2.3 (p < 0.001). ACT had no effect on exploration time in unstressed mice, but ACT completely restored the diminished exploratory locomotion time found in stressed mice compared to unstressed mice. The ratio of time spent exploring new objects compared to familiar items (discrimination ratio [DR]) was reduced following social isolation in males from 2.6 ± 0.5 to 1.2 ± 0.2 (p < 0.05) and in females from 3.8 ± 0.6 to 1.5 ± 0.2 (p < 0.01). ACT normalized the DR ratio of the stressed mice. Decreased food consumption and greater locomotor activity induced by ACT may contribute to acute weight loss; this effect is diminished when rodents were maintained on an unhealthful Western diet. Inhibition of chloride/bicarbonate transport through agents such as acetazolamide could offer a safe, new approach to achieving weight loss.
Project description:Patients with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) display abnormalities in neuronal development, synaptic function and neural circuits. The imbalance of excitatory and inhibitory (E/I) synaptic transmission has been proposed to cause the main behavioral characteristics of ASD. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) can directly or indirectly induce excitability and synaptic plasticity changes in the brain noninvasively. However, whether rTMS can ameliorate autistic-like behaviors in animal model via regulating the balance of E/I synaptic transmission is unknown. By using our recent reported animal model with autistic-like behaviors induced by neonatal isolation (postnatal days 1-9), we found that low-frequency rTMS (LF-rTMS, 1 Hz) treatment for 2 weeks effectively alleviated the acquired autistic-like symptoms, as reflected by an increase in social interaction and decrease in self-grooming, anxiety- and depressive-like behaviors in young adult rats compared to those in untreated animals. Furthermore, the amelioration in autistic-like behavior was accompanied by a restoration of the balance between E/I activity, especially at the level of synaptic transmission and receptors in synaptosomes. These findings indicated that LF-rTMS may alleviate the symptoms of ASD-like behaviors caused by neonatal isolation through regulating the synaptic GABA transmission, suggesting that LF-rTMS may be a potential therapeutic technique to treat ASD.
Project description:Social animals detect the affective states of conspecifics and utilize this information to orchestrate social interactions. In a social affective preference text in which experimental adult male rats could interact with either naive or stressed conspecifics, the experimental rats either approached or avoided the stressed conspecific, depending upon the age of the conspecific. Specifically, experimental rats approached stressed juveniles but avoided stressed adults. Inhibition of insular cortex, which is implicated in social cognition, and blockade of insular oxytocin receptors disrupted the social affective behaviors. Oxytocin application increased intrinsic excitability and synaptic efficacy in acute insular cortex slices, and insular oxytocin administration recapitulated the behaviors observed toward stressed conspecifics. Network analysis of c-Fos immunoreactivity in 29 regions identified functional connectivity between insular cortex, prefrontal cortex, amygdala and the social decision-making network. These results implicate insular cortex as a key component in the circuit underlying age-dependent social responses to stressed conspecifics.