Effects of maternal separation and methamphetamine exposure on protein expression in the nucleus accumbens shell and core
Early life adversity has been suggested to predispose an individual to later drug abuse. The core and shell sub-regions of the nucleus accumbens are differentially affected by both stressors and methamphetamine. This study aimed to characterize and quantify methamphetamine-induced protein expression in the shell and core of the nucleus accumbens in animals exposed to maternal separation during early development. Isobaric tagging (iTRAQ) which enables simultaneous identification and quantification of peptides with tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) was used. We found that maternal separation altered more proteins involved in structure and redox regulation in the shell than in the core of the nucleus accumbens, and that maternal separation and methamphetamine had differential effects on signaling proteins in the shell and core. Compared to maternal separation or methamphetamine alone, the maternal separation/methamphetamine combination altered more proteins involved in energy metabolism, redox regulatory processes and neurotrophic proteins. Methamphetamine treatment of rats subjected to maternal separation caused a reduction of cytoskeletal proteins in the shell and altered cytoskeletal, signaling, energy metabolism and redox proteins in the core. Comparison of maternal separation/methamphetamine to methamphetamine alone resulted in decreased cytoskeletal proteins in both the shell and core and increased neurotrophic proteins in the core. This study confirms that both early life stress and methamphetamine differentially affect the shell and core of the nucleus accumbens and demonstrates that the combination of early life adversity and later methamphetamine use results in more proteins being affected in the nucleus accumbens than either treatment alone.