Role of brain norepinephrine in the behavioral response to stress.
ABSTRACT The brain noradrenergic system is activated by acute stress. The post-synaptic effects of norepinephrine (NE), exerted at a cellular or neural circuit level, have been described as modulatory in nature, as NE facilitates responses evoked in target cells by both excitatory and inhibitory afferent input. Over the past few years, we have undertaken a series of studies to understand how these cellular modulatory effects of NE, elicited by acute stress, might translate into modulation of the behavioral-affective components of the whole-animal response to stress. Using microdialysis, we have demonstrated that acute immobilization stress activates NE release in a number of stress-related limbic forebrain target regions, such as the central and medial amygdala, lateral bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, medial prefrontal cortex, and lateral septum. Using microinjections of adrenergic antagonist drugs directly into these regions, we have shown that this stress-induced release of NE facilitates a number of anxiety-like behavioral responses that are mediated in these regions, including stress-induced reduction of open-arm exploration on the elevated plus-maze, stress-induced reduction of social interaction behavior, and activation of defensive burying behavior by contact with an electrified probe. Dysregulation of the brain noradrenergic system may be a factor in determining vulnerability to stress-related pathology, or in the interaction of genetic vulnerability and environmental sensitization. Compared to outbred Sprague-Dawley rats, we have shown that the modulatory effect of NE is deficient in Wistar-Kyoto rats, which also exhibit attenuated behavioral reactivity to acute stress, as well as increased vulnerability to stress-induced gastric ulcers and exaggerated activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) stress axis. Further, repeated exposure to mild intermittent cold stress resulted in a much greater sensitization of both the brain noradrenergic system and the HPA axis in Wistar-Kyoto rats compared to Sprague-Dawley rats. The recruitment of a robust noradrenergic facilitatory influence following repeated cold exposure in this previously deficient strain resulted in an aberrant HPA response, which may be illustrative of the kinds of neurobiological changes that may contribute to the development of stress-related neuropsychiatric disorders such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, or other anxiety disorders in predisposed or susceptible individuals. On the other side of the same issue, regulatory alterations in noradrenergic neurotransmission, or in the stress-modulatory functions of NE, may be important in the behavioral effects of chronic antidepressant drug treatment. We present recent preliminary results addressing the effects of chronic treatment with the selective NE reuptake inhibitor, desipramine, on acute behavioral reactivity to stress. A better understanding of the role of NE in adaptive responses to acute stress, the pathological consequences of prolonged, repeated or severe stress, and the mechanisms of action of drugs used to treat stress-related diseases, may contribute to the future development of more effective strategies for the treatment or even prevention of such disorders.
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ABSTRACT: Alzheimer's disease and other age-related neurodegenerative disorders are associated with deterioration of the noradrenergic locus coeruleus (LC), a probable trigger for mood and memory dysfunction. LC noradrenergic neurons exhibit particularly high levels of somatostatin binding sites. This is noteworthy since cortical and hypothalamic somatostatin content is reduced in neurodegenerative pathologies. Yet a possible role of a somatostatin signal deficit in the maintenance of noradrenergic projections remains unknown. Here, we deployed tissue microarrays, immunohistochemistry, quantitative morphometry and mRNA profiling in a cohort of Alzheimer's and age-matched control brains in combination with genetic models of somatostatin receptor deficiency to establish causality between defunct somatostatin signalling and noradrenergic neurodegeneration. In Alzheimer's disease, we found significantly reduced somatostatin protein expression in the temporal cortex, with aberrant clustering and bulging of tyrosine hydroxylase-immunoreactive afferents. As such, somatostatin receptor 2 (SSTR2) mRNA was highly expressed in the human LC, with its levels significantly decreasing from Braak stages III/IV and onwards, i.e., a process preceding advanced Alzheimer's pathology. The loss of SSTR2 transcripts in the LC neurons appeared selective, since tyrosine hydroxylase, dopamine β-hydroxylase, galanin or galanin receptor 3 mRNAs remained unchanged. We modeled these pathogenic changes in Sstr2 (-/-) mice and, unlike in Sstr1 (-/-) or Sstr4 (-/-) genotypes, they showed selective, global and progressive degeneration of their central noradrenergic projections. However, neuronal perikarya in the LC were found intact until late adulthood (<8 months) in Sstr2 (-/-) mice. In contrast, the noradrenergic neurons in the superior cervical ganglion lacked SSTR2 and, as expected, the sympathetic innervation of the head region did not show any signs of degeneration. Our results indicate that SSTR2-mediated signaling is integral to the maintenance of central noradrenergic projections at the system level, and that early loss of somatostatin receptor 2 function may be associated with the selective vulnerability of the noradrenergic system in Alzheimer's disease.Acta neuropathologica. 02/2015;
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ABSTRACT: A variety of mechanisms are responsible for enabling an organism to escape a predatory attack, including behavioral changes, alterations in hormone levels, and production and/or secretion of toxins. However, these mechanisms are rarely studied in conjunction with each other. The Rough-skinned Newt (Taricha granulosa) is an ideal organism to examine the relationships between these mechanisms because their behavioral displays and toxin secretion during a predator attack are well documented and readily characterized. While we found no direct relationship between antipredator behavior and endogenous levels of corticosterone (CORT), antipredator behavior was inhibited when exogenous CORT and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) were administered, resulting in high circulating concentrations of CORT, indicating that CORT may play a role in mediating the behavior. There was no correlation between the animal's toxicity and either CORT or behavior. The results of this study provide evidence that CORT plays an important, yet complex, role in the antipredator response of these amphibians. Copyright © 2014. Published by Elsevier Inc.General and Comparative Endocrinology 12/2014; · 2.82 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Psychological stressors cause physiological, immunological, and behavioral alterations in humans and rodents that can be maladaptive and negatively affect quality of life. Several lines of evidence indicate that psychological stress disrupts key functional interactions between the immune system and brain that ultimately affects mood and behavior. For example, activation of microglia, the resident innate immune cells of the brain, has been implicated as a key regulator of mood and behavior in the context of prolonged exposure to psychological stress. Emerging evidence implicates a novel neuroimmune circuit involving microglia activation and sympathetic outflow to the peripheral immune system that further reinforces stress-related behaviors by facilitating the recruitment of inflammatory monocytes to the brain. Evidence from various rodent models, including repeated social defeat (RSD), revealed that trafficking of monocytes to the brain promoted the establishment of anxiety-like behaviors following prolonged stress exposure. In addition, new evidence implicates monocyte trafficking from the spleen to the brain as key regulator of recurring anxiety following exposure to prolonged stress. The purpose of this review is to discuss mechanisms that cause stress-induced monocyte re-distribution in the brain and how dynamic interactions between microglia, endothelial cells, and brain macrophages lead to maladaptive behavioral responses.Frontiers in Neuroscience 01/2014; 8:447.