Accumulating evidence shows that stressful events evoke molecular alterations in the brain, considered a pathology in major depressive disorder (MDD). However, the abnormalities of neurotransmissions as well as intracellular signaling pathways affected by chronic stress in brain have not been fully explored. We investigated the effect of chronic unpredictable mild stress (CUMS) on the emotional behaviors, dopaminergic and serotoninergic function, and intracellular signaling in the nucleus accumbens, hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. Male C57BL/6J mice were exposed to CUMS for 4 weeks. CUMS was shown to induce hyperactivity in a novel environment, decrease interaction time in the social interaction test, prolong feeding latency in the novelty suppressed feeding test and enhance immobility in the forced swimming test. The levels of dopamine, its metabolites and turnover, and protein level of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) were increased by CUMS in the nucleus accumbens (NAc). The level of serotonin and protein levels of tryptophan hydroxylase (TPH) and TH were decreased by CUMS in the hippocampus (HPC) and prefrontal cortex (PFC). Accompanying the increase in dopaminergic function, phosphorylation levels of extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK), protein kinase B (Akt) and cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB) were increased by CUMS in the NAc. Administration of fluoxetine (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor: 20 mg/kg i.p.) and aripiprazole (dopamine D2 receptor partial agonist: 0.1 mg/kg i.p.) during CUMS, prevented behavioral changes and increase of dopamine level in the NAc. These data suggest that CUMS-induced depression-like behaviors are coupled with dopaminergic hyperfunction in the NAc and serotonergic hypofunction in the HPC and PFC.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes