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Juvenile stress exerts sex-independent effects on anxiety, antidepressant-like behaviours and dopaminergic innervation of the prelimbic cortex in adulthood and does not alter hippocampal neurogenesis
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Harris, Erin P.
McGovern, Andrew J.
Melo, Thieza G.
Nolan, Yvonne M.
O'Leary, Olive F
Stress, particularly during childhood, is a major risk factor for the development of depression. Depression is twice as prevalent in women compared to men, which suggests that biological sex also contributes to depression susceptibility. However, the neurobiology underpinning sex differences in the long-term consequences of childhood stress remains unknown. Thus, the aim of this study was to determine whether stress applied during the prepubertal juvenile period (postnatal day 27–29) in rats induces sex-specific changes in anxiety-like behaviour, anhedonia, and antidepressant-like behaviour in adulthood in males and females. The impact of juvenile stress on two systems in the brain associated with these behaviours and that develop during the juvenile period, the mesocorticolimbic dopaminergic system and hippocampal neurogenesis, were also investigated. Juvenile stress altered escape-oriented behaviours in the forced swim test in both sexes, decreased latency to drink a palatable substance in a novel environment in the novelty-induced hypophagia test in both sexes, and decreased open field supported rearing behavior in females. These behavioural changes were accompanied by stress-induced increases in tyrosine hydroxylase immunoreactivity in the prefrontal cortex of both sexes, but not other regions of the mesocorticolimbic dopaminergic system. Juvenile stress did not impact anhedonia in adulthood as measured by the saccharin preference test and had no effect hippocampal neurogenesis across the longitudinal axis of the hippocampus. These results suggest that juvenile stress has long-lasting impacts on antidepressant-like and reward-seeking behaviour in adulthood and these changes may be due to alterations to catecholaminergic innervation of the medial prefrontal cortex.
Stress , Sex differences , Depression , Neurogenesis , Dopamine , Prefrontal cortex
Harris, E. P., McGovern, A. J., Melo, T. G., Barron, A., Nolan, Y. M. and O'Leary, O. F. (2022) 'Juvenile stress exerts sex-independent effects on anxiety, antidepressant-like behaviours and dopaminergic innervation of the prelimbic cortex in adulthood and does not alter hippocampal neurogenesis, Behavioural Brain Research, 421, 113725 (14 pp). doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2021.113725