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PLoS One. 2013 Sep 9;8(9):e73689. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0073689. eCollection 2013.

Dynamic proteomics of nucleus accumbens in response to acute psychological stress in environmentally enriched and isolated rats.

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  • 1Center for Addiction Research, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, The University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas, United States of America.


Our prior research has shown that environmental enrichment (i.e. rats reared in an environment with novel objects, social contact with conspecifics) produces a protective antidepressant-like phenotype in rats and decreases neurobiological effects of acute psychological stress. Although CREB activity has been identified as a major player, the downstream molecular mechanisms remain largely unexplored. Thus, the current study investigates proteomic differences in the accumbens of rats raised in an enriched condition (EC) versus those raised in an isolated control condition (IC) under basal conditions and after 30 min of acute restraint stress. Results showed that under basal conditions, EC rats generally expressed less mitochondria-related proteins, particularly those involved in TCA cycle and electron transport compared to IC rats. After 30 min of acute stress, EC rats displayed increased expression of energy metabolism enzymes (among others) while IC rats exhibited decreased expression of similar proteins. Further, network and pathway analyses also identified links to AKT signaling proteins, 14-3-3 family proteins, heat-shock proteins, and ubiquitin-interacting proteins. The protein ENO1 showed marked differential expression and regulation; EC rats expressed higher levels under basal conditions that increased subsequent to stress, while the basal IC expression was lower and decreased further still after stress. The results of this study define differential protein expression in a protective rat model for major depression and additionally identify a dynamic and coordinated differential response to acute stress between the two groups. These results provide new avenues for exploration of the molecular determinants of depression and the response to acute stress.

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