Vaishnav Krishnan

The Rockefeller University, New York City, New York, United States

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Publications (29)334.18 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Depression and anxiety disorders are associated with increased release of peripheral cytokines; however, their functional rele-vance remains unknown. Using a social stress model in mice, we find preexisting individual differences in the sensitivity of the peripheral immune system that predict and promote vulnerability to social stress. Cytokine profiles were obtained 20 min after the first social stress exposure. Of the cytokines regulated by stress, IL-6 was most highly up-regulated only in mice that ultimately developed a susceptible behavioral phenotype following a sub-sequent chronic stress, and levels remained elevated for at least 1 mo. We confirmed a similar elevation of serum IL-6 in two separate cohorts of patients with treatment-resistant major depressive disorder. Before any physical contact in mice, we observed individual differences in IL-6 levels from ex vivo stimulated leukocytes that predict susceptibility versus resilience to a sub-sequent stressor. To shift the sensitivity of the peripheral immune system to a pro-or antidepressant state, bone marrow (BM) chimeras were generated by transplanting hematopoietic pro-genitor cells from stress-susceptible mice releasing high IL-6 or from IL-6 knockout (IL-6 −/−
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 10/2014; · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: It has been suggested for some time that circadian rhythm abnormalities underlie the development of multiple psychiatric disorders. However, it is unclear how disruptions in individual circadian genes might regulate mood and anxiety. Here we found that mice lacking functional mPeriod 1 (mPer1) or mPeriod 2 (mPer2) individually did not have consistent behavioral abnormalities in measures of anxiety-related behavior. However, mice deficient in both mPer1 and mPer2 had an increase in levels of anxiety-like behavior in multiple measures. Moreover, we found that mPer1 and mPer2 expression was reduced in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) after exposure to chronic social defeat stress, a paradigm that led to increased anxiety-related behavior. Following social defeat, chronic treatment with fluoxetine normalized Per gene expression towards wild-type levels. Knockdown of both mPer1 and mPer2 expression via RNA interference specifically in the NAc led to a similar increase in anxiety-like behavior as seen in the mutant animals. Taken together, these results implicate the Per genes in the NAc in response to stress and the development of anxiety.
    European Journal of Neuroscience 10/2012; · 3.75 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: While the abuse of opiate drugs continues to rise, the neuroadaptations that occur with long-term drug exposure remain poorly understood. We describe here a series of chronic morphine-induced adaptations in ventral tegmental area (VTA) dopamine neurons, which are mediated via downregulation of AKT-mTORC2 (mammalian target of rapamycin complex-2). Chronic opiates decrease the size of VTA dopamine neurons in rodents, an effect seen in humans as well, and concomitantly increase the excitability of the cells but decrease dopamine output to target regions. Chronic morphine decreases mTORC2 activity, and overexpression of Rictor, a component of mTORC2, prevents morphine-induced changes in cell morphology and activity. Further, local knockout of Rictor in VTA decreases DA soma size and reduces rewarding responses to morphine, consistent with the hypothesis that these adaptations represent a mechanism of reward tolerance. Together, these findings demonstrate a novel role for AKT-mTORC2 signaling in mediating neuroadaptations to opiate drugs of abuse.
    Neuron 12/2011; 72(6):977-90. · 15.77 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The neurobiological underpinnings of mood and anxiety disorders have been linked to the nucleus accumbens (NAc), a region important in processing the rewarding and emotional salience of stimuli. Using chronic social defeat stress, an animal model of mood and anxiety disorders, we investigated whether alterations in synaptic plasticity are responsible for the long-lasting behavioral symptoms induced by this form of stress. We hypothesized that chronic social defeat stress alters synaptic strength or connectivity of medium spiny neurons (MSNs) in the NAc to induce social avoidance. To test this, we analyzed the synaptic profile of MSNs via confocal imaging of Lucifer-yellow-filled cells, ultrastructural analysis of the postsynaptic density, and electrophysiological recordings of miniature EPSCs (mEPSCs) in mice after social defeat. We found that NAc MSNs have more stubby spine structures with smaller postsynaptic densities and an increase in the frequency of mEPSCs after social defeat. In parallel to these structural changes, we observed significant increases in IκB kinase (IKK) in the NAc after social defeat, a molecular pathway that has been shown to regulate neuronal morphology. Indeed, we find using viral-mediated gene transfer of dominant-negative and constitutively active IKK mutants that activation of IKK signaling pathways during social defeat is both necessary and sufficient to induce synaptic alterations and behavioral effects of the stress. These studies establish a causal role for IKK in regulating stress-induced adaptive plasticity and may present a novel target for drug development in the treatment of mood and anxiety disorders in humans.
    Journal of Neuroscience 01/2011; 31(1):314-21. · 6.91 Impact Factor
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    Vaishnav Krishnan, Eric J Nestler
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    ABSTRACT: Much of the current understanding about the pathogenesis of altered mood, impaired concentration and neurovegetative symptoms in major depression has come from animal models. However, because of the unique and complex features of human depression, the generation of valid and insightful depression models has been less straightforward than modeling other disabling diseases like cancer or autoimmune conditions. Today's popular depression models creatively merge ethologically valid behavioral assays with the latest technological advances in molecular biology and automated video-tracking. This chapter reviews depression assays involving acute stress (e.g., forced swim test), models consisting of prolonged physical or social stress (e.g., social defeat), models of secondary depression, genetic models, and experiments designed to elucidate the mechanisms of antidepressant action. These paradigms are critically evaluated in relation to their ease, validity and replicability, the molecular insights that they have provided, and their capacity to offer the next generation of therapeutics for depression.
    Current topics in behavioral neurosciences. 01/2011; 7:121-47.
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    Vaishnav Krishnan, Eric J Nestler
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    ABSTRACT: Major depressive disorder is a heritable psychiatric syndrome that appears to be associated with subtle cellular and molecular alterations in a complex neural network. The affected brain regions display dynamic neuroplastic adaptations to endocrine and immunologic stimuli arising from within and outside the CNS. Depression's clinical and etiological heterogeneity adds a third level of complexity, implicating different pathophysiological mechanisms in different patients with the same DSM diagnosis. Current pharmacological antidepressant treatments improve depressive symptoms through complex mechanisms that are themselves incompletely understood. This review summarizes the current knowledge of the neurobiology of depression by combining insights from human clinical studies and molecular explanations from animal models. The authors provide recommendations for future research, with a focus on translating today's discoveries into improved diagnostic tests and treatments.
    American Journal of Psychiatry 11/2010; 167(11):1305-20. · 14.72 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Obesity has been associated with an increased risk of developing several psychiatric illnesses, including major depression and posttraumatic stress disorder. Likewise, these stress-related disturbances are associated with a higher rate of obesity; yet, the neurobiological mechanisms linking obesity and stress remain incompletely understood. Following exposure to chronic social defeat stress (CSDS), mice were given free access to either regular chow or a Western-style diet high in triglycerides and cholesterol. Comprehensive metabolic and behavioral testing was then conducted. Mice subjected to CSDS and then fed a high-fat diet for 30 days display severe behavioral deficits accompanied by redistribution of body fat. Stressed mice have decreased adipose tissue as well as decreased serum leptin levels compared with control mice. Pharmacological inhibition of beta(3)-adrenergic signaling during CSDS normalizes these metabolic abnormalities but worsens behavioral symptoms. Furthermore, mice subjected to CSDS display central leptin resistance including reduced expression of pro-opiomelanocortin in hypothalamus. Administration of a central melanocortin agonist worsens stress-induced behavioral deficits, while mice lacking the melanocortin-4 receptor display attenuated symptoms. These results indicate that chronic signaling through beta(3)-adrenergic receptors during social stress is an adaptive response that improves behavioral function. However, these responses come at the expense of central leptin resistance and melanocortin signaling alterations that contribute to significant and long-lasting metabolic abnormalities.
    Biological psychiatry 06/2010; 67(11):1075-82. · 8.93 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In contrast with the many studies of stress effects on the brain, relatively little is known about the molecular mechanisms of resilience, the ability of some individuals to escape the deleterious effects of stress. We found that the transcription factor DeltaFosB mediates an essential mechanism of resilience in mice. Induction of DeltaFosB in the nucleus accumbens, an important brain reward-associated region, in response to chronic social defeat stress was both necessary and sufficient for resilience. DeltaFosB induction was also required for the standard antidepressant fluoxetine to reverse behavioral pathology induced by social defeat. DeltaFosB produced these effects through induction of the GluR2 AMPA glutamate receptor subunit, which decreased the responsiveness of nucleus accumbens neurons to glutamate, and through other synaptic proteins. Together, these findings establish a previously unknown molecular pathway underlying both resilience and antidepressant action.
    Nature Neuroscience 06/2010; 13(6):745-52. · 15.25 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The long-term response to chronic stress is variable, with some individuals developing maladaptive functioning, although other "resilient" individuals do not. Stress reduces neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus subgranular zone (SGZ), but it is unknown if stress-induced changes in neurogenesis contribute to individual vulnerability. Using a chronic social defeat stress model, we explored whether the susceptibility to stress-induced social avoidance was related to changes in SGZ proliferation and neurogenesis. Immediately after social defeat, stress-exposed mice (irrespective of whether they displayed social avoidance) had fewer proliferating SGZ cells labeled with the S-phase marker BrdU. The decrease was transient, because BrdU cell numbers were normalized 24 h later. The survival of BrdU cells labeled before defeat stress was also not altered. However, 4 weeks later, mice that displayed social avoidance had more surviving dentate gyrus neurons. Thus, dentate gyrus neurogenesis is increased after social defeat stress selectively in mice that display persistent social avoidance. Supporting a functional role for adult-generated dentate gyrus neurons, ablation of neurogenesis via cranial ray irradiation robustly inhibited social avoidance. These data show that the time window after cessation of stress is a critical period for the establishment of persistent cellular and behavioral responses to stress and that a compensatory enhancement in neurogenesis is related to the long-term individual differences in maladaptive responses to stress.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 02/2010; 107(9):4436-41. · 9.81 Impact Factor
  • European Neuropsychopharmacology - EUR NEUROPSYCHOPHARMACOL. 01/2010; 20.
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    ABSTRACT: Persistent symptoms of depression suggest the involvement of stable molecular adaptations in brain, which may be reflected at the level of chromatin remodeling. We find that chronic social defeat stress in mice causes a transient decrease, followed by a persistent increase, in levels of acetylated histone H3 in the nucleus accumbens, an important limbic brain region. This persistent increase in H3 acetylation is associated with decreased levels of histone deacetylase 2 (HDAC2) in the nucleus accumbens. Similar effects were observed in the nucleus accumbens of depressed humans studied postmortem. These changes in H3 acetylation and HDAC2 expression mediate long-lasting positive neuronal adaptations, since infusion of HDAC inhibitors into the nucleus accumbens, which increases histone acetylation, exerts robust antidepressant-like effects in the social defeat paradigm and other behavioral assays. HDAC inhibitor [N-(2-aminophenyl)-4-[N-(pyridine-3-ylmethoxy-carbonyl)aminomethyl]benzamide (MS-275)] infusion also reverses the effects of chronic defeat stress on global patterns of gene expression in the nucleus accumbens, as determined by microarray analysis, with striking similarities to the effects of the standard antidepressant fluoxetine. Stress-regulated genes whose expression is normalized selectively by MS-275 may provide promising targets for the future development of novel antidepressant treatments. Together, these findings provide new insight into the underlying molecular mechanisms of depression and antidepressant action, and support the antidepressant potential of HDAC inhibitors and perhaps other agents that act at the level of chromatin structure.
    Journal of Neuroscience 09/2009; 29(37):11451-60. · 6.91 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Although chronic cocaine-induced changes in dendritic spines on nucleus accumbens (NAc) neurons have been correlated with behavioral sensitization, the molecular pathways governing these structural changes, and their resulting behavioral effects, are poorly understood. The transcription factor, nuclear factor kappa B (NFkappaB), is rapidly activated by diverse stimuli and regulates expression of many genes known to maintain cell structure. Therefore, we evaluated the role of NFkappaB in regulating cocaine-induced dendritic spine changes on medium spiny neurons of the NAc and the rewarding effects of cocaine. We show that chronic cocaine induces NFkappaB-dependent transcription in the NAc of NFkappaB-Lac transgenic mice. This induction of NFkappaB activity is accompanied by increased expression of several NFkappaB genes, the promoters of which show chromatin modifications after chronic cocaine exposure consistent with their transcriptional activation. To study the functional significance of this induction, we used viral-mediated gene transfer to express either a constitutively active or dominant-negative mutant of Inhibitor of kappa B kinase (IKKca or IKKdn), which normally activates NFkappaB signaling, in the NAc. We found that activation of NFkappaB by IKKca increases the number of dendritic spines on NAc neurons, whereas inhibition of NFkappaB by IKKdn decreases basal dendritic spine number and blocks the increase in dendritic spines after chronic cocaine. Moreover, inhibition of NFkappaB blocks the rewarding effects of cocaine and the ability of previous cocaine exposure to increase an animal's preference for cocaine. Together, these studies establish a direct role for NFkappaB pathways in the NAc to regulate structural and behavioral plasticity to cocaine.
    Journal of Neuroscience 04/2009; 29(11):3529-37. · 6.91 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The molecular mechanisms of stress-induced depressive behaviors have been characterized extensively in male rodents; however, much less is known about female subjects, despite the fact that human depression is far more prevalent in women. To gain insight into these mechanisms, we performed microarray analysis in nucleus accumbens (NAc), a key brain reward region implicated in depression, in ovariectomized (OVX) and gonadally intact female mice after chronic unpredictable stress and measured stress-induced depression-like behavior in the forced swim test (FST). Male mice were studied in the FST for comparison. We find that stress regulation of genes in NAc of gonadally intact female mice is blunted in OVX mice. This pattern of gene regulation is consistent with behavioral findings on the FST: the pro-depression-like effect of stress in intact female mice is absent in OVX female and gonadally intact male mice. We identified, among many genes regulated by stress, several nuclear factor kappaB (NFkappaB) subunits-a pro-survival transcription factor involved in cellular responses to stress-as being highly upregulated in NAc of OVX mice. Given the role of NFkappaB during stress, we hypothesized that upregulation of NFkappaB by OVX decreases susceptibility to stress. Indeed, we show that inhibition of NFkappaB in NAc of OVX animals increases susceptibility to stress-induced depressive behaviors, whereas activation of NFkappaB in NAc of intact female subjects blocks susceptibility. These results suggest a hormonal mechanism of NFkappaB regulation that contributes to stress-induced depressive behaviors in female subjects and might represent a mechanism for gender differences in prevalence rates of these disorders in humans.
    Biological psychiatry 03/2009; 65(10):874-80. · 8.93 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Here, we characterized behavioral abnormalities induced by prolonged social isolation in adult rodents. Social isolation induced both anxiety- and anhedonia-like symptoms and decreased cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB) activity in the nucleus accumbens shell (NAcSh). All of these abnormalities were reversed by chronic, but not acute, antidepressant treatment. However, although the anxiety phenotype and its reversal by antidepressant treatment were CREB-dependent, the anhedonia-like symptoms were not mediated by CREB in NAcSh. We found that decreased CREB activity in NAcSh correlated with increased expression of certain K(+) channels and reduced electrical excitability of NAcSh neurons, which was sufficient to induce anxiety-like behaviors and was reversed by chronic antidepressant treatment. Together, our results describe a model that distinguishes anxiety- and depression-like behavioral phenotypes, establish a selective role of decreased CREB activity in NAcSh in anxiety-like behavior, and provide a mechanism by which antidepressant treatment alleviates anxiety symptoms after social isolation.
    Nature Neuroscience 02/2009; 12(2):200-9. · 15.25 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Previous studies found that brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) derived from nucleus accumbens (NAc) neurons can mediate persistent behavioral changes that contribute to cocaine addiction. To further investigate BDNF signaling in the mesolimbic dopamine system, we analyzed tropomyosin-related kinase B (TrkB) messenger RNA (mRNA) and protein changes in the NAc and ventral tegmental area (VTA) in rats following 3 weeks of cocaine self-administration. To study the role of BDNF-TrkB activity in the VTA and NAc in cocaine reward, we used localized viral-mediated Cre recombinase expression in floxed BDNF and floxed TrkB mice to knockdown BDNF or TrkB in the VTA and NAc in cocaine place conditioning tests and TrkB in the NAc in cocaine self-administration tests. We found that 3 weeks of active cocaine self-administration significantly increased TrkB protein levels in the NAc shell, while yoked (passive) cocaine exposure produced a similar increase in the VTA. Localized BDNF knockdown in either region reduced cocaine reward in place conditioning, whereas only TrkB knockdown in the NAc reduced cocaine reward. In mice self-administering cocaine, TrkB knockdown in the NAc produced a downward shift in the cocaine self-administration dose-response curve but had no effect on the acquisition of cocaine or sucrose self-administration. Together, these data suggest that BDNF synthesized in either VTA or NAc neurons is important for maintaining sensitivity to cocaine reward but only BDNF activation of TrkB receptors in the NAc mediates this effect. In addition, up-regulation of NAc TrkB with chronic cocaine use could promote the transition to more addicted biological states.
    Biological psychiatry 12/2008; 65(8):696-701. · 8.93 Impact Factor
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    Vaishnav Krishnan, Eric J Nestler
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    ABSTRACT: Unravelling the pathophysiology of depression is a unique challenge. Not only are depressive syndromes heterogeneous and their aetiologies diverse, but symptoms such as guilt and suicidality are impossible to reproduce in animal models. Nevertheless, other symptoms have been accurately modelled, and these, together with clinical data, are providing insight into the neurobiology of depression. Recent studies combining behavioural, molecular and electrophysiological techniques reveal that certain aspects of depression result from maladaptive stress-induced neuroplastic changes in specific neural circuits. They also show that understanding the mechanisms of resilience to stress offers a crucial new dimension for the development of fundamentally novel antidepressant treatments.
    Nature 11/2008; 455(7215):894-902. · 38.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The neurobiological mechanisms by which only a minority of stress-exposed individuals develop psychiatric diseases remain largely unknown. Recent evidence suggests that dopaminergic neurons of the ventral tegmental area (VTA) play a key role in the manifestation of stress vulnerability. Using a social defeat paradigm, we segregated susceptible mice (socially avoidant) from unsusceptible mice (socially interactive) and examined VTA punches for changes in neurotrophic signaling. Employing a series of viral vectors, we sought to causally implicate these neurotrophic changes in the development of avoidance behavior. Susceptibility to social defeat was associated with a significant reduction in levels of active/phosphorylated AKT (thymoma viral proto-oncogene) within the VTA, whereas chronic antidepressant treatment (in mice and humans) increased active AKT levels. This defeat-induced reduction in AKT activation in susceptible mice was both necessary and sufficient to recapitulate depressive behaviors associated with susceptibility. Pharmacologic reductions in AKT activity also significantly raised the firing frequency of VTA dopamine neurons, an important electrophysiologic hallmark of the susceptible phenotype. These studies highlight a crucial role for decreases in VTA AKT signaling as a key mediator of the maladaptive cellular and behavioral response to chronic stress.
    Biological psychiatry 10/2008; 64(8):691-700. · 8.93 Impact Factor
  • Vaishnav Krishnan, Olivier Berton, Eric Nestler
    American Journal of Psychiatry 10/2008; 165(9):1109. · 14.72 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Type 5 adenylyl cyclase (AC5) is highly concentrated in the dorsal striatum and nucleus accumbens (NAc), two brain areas which have been implicated in motor function, reward, and emotion. Here we demonstrate that mice lacking AC5 (AC5-/-) display strong reductions in anxiety-like behavior in several paradigms. This anxiolytic behavior in AC5-/- mice was reduced by the D(1) receptor antagonist SCH23390 and enhanced by the D(1) dopamine receptor agonist, dihydrexidine (DHX). DHX-stimulated c-fos induction in AC5-/- mice was blunted in the dorso-lateral striatum, but it was overactivated in the dorso-medial striatum and NAc. The siRNA-mediated inhibition of AC5 levels within the NAc was sufficient to produce an anxiolytic-like response. Microarray and RT-PCR analyses revealed an up-regulation of prodynorphin and down-regulation of cholecystokinin (CCK) in the NAc of AC5-/- mice. Administration of nor-binaltorphimine (a kappa opioid receptor antagonist) or CCK-8s (a CCK receptor agonist) reversed the anxiolytic-like behavior exhibited by AC5-/- mutants. Taken together, these results suggest an essential role of AC5 in the NAc for maintaining normal levels of anxiety.
    Journal of Neurochemistry 09/2008; 107(1):105-15. · 3.97 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Adenylyl cyclases (ACs) represent a diverse family of enzymes responsible for the generation of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP), a key intracellular second messenger. The Ca(2+)/calmodulin-stimulated AC1 and AC8 isoforms as well as the calcium-inhibited AC5 isoform are abundantly expressed within limbic regions of the central nervous system. This study examines the contribution of these AC isoforms to emotional behavior. Male and female AC1/8 double knockout mice (DKO) and AC5 knockout mice (AC5KO) were examined on a series of standard laboratory assays of emotionality. Mice were also assayed for hippocampal cell proliferation and for changes in brain-derived neurotrophic factor signaling in the nucleus accumbens, amygdala, and hippocampus, three forebrain structures involved in the regulation of mood and affect. The AC5KO mice showed striking anxiolytic and antidepressant phenotypes on standard behavioral assays. In contrast, AC1/8 DKO mice were hypoactive, exhibited diminished sucrose preference, and displayed alterations in neurotrophic signaling, generally consistent with a prodepressant phenotype. Neither line of mice displayed alterations in hippocampal cell proliferation. These data illustrate the complex manner in which Ca(2+)/calmodulin-stimulated ACs contribute to emotional behavior. In addition, they support the possibility that a selective AC5 antagonist would be of therapeutic value against depression and anxiety disorders.
    Biological psychiatry 06/2008; 64(4):336-43. · 8.93 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

3k Citations
334.18 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2014
    • The Rockefeller University
      New York City, New York, United States
  • 2011
    • Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
      • Department of Neurology
      Boston, MA, United States
  • 2009–2011
    • Mount Sinai School of Medicine
      • Department of Pharmacology and Systems Therapeutics
      Manhattan, New York, United States
  • 2006–2011
    • University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
      • Department of Psychiatry
      Dallas, TX, United States