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Effects of postweaning social isolation and re-socialization on the expression of vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) and dendritic development in the medial prefrontal cortex of the rat.

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Instituto de Ciencias Básicas, Universidad Católica del Maule, Avenida San Miguel 3605 P.O. Box 617, Talca, Chile.


In the present study we evaluated the effects of early social isolation and re-socialization on dendritic development and the expression of the vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) of the rat. Sprague-Dawley male rats were reared either in isolation (IC) or social (SC) conditions from postnatal day 18 to 32. Rats were then behaviorally evaluated in the open field test, and approximately half of the animals were sacrificed. Their brains were processed either for immunocytochemical labeling against VIP or for the Golgi-Cox-Sholl staining. The remaining IC rats were re-socialized during 30 additional days. The results demonstrated that early social isolation impair neuronal dendritic arborization and increase the number of VIP-immunoreactive neurons. Furthermore, animals displayed hyperlocomotion in the open-field test. According to our structural, immunocytochemical and open-field data, the resocialization experience was unable to reverse neuronal and behavioral abnormalities.

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