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Physiol Behav. 2007 Dec 5;92(5):824-30. Epub 2007 Jun 14.

Social stress during adolescence in Wistar rats induces social anxiety in adulthood without affecting brain monoaminergic content and activity.

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Behavioral Physiology, University of Groningen, The Netherlands.


Adolescence has been described as an important period to acquire social competences required for adult life. It has been suggested that early stress experiences could affect the development of the brain at different levels. These changes in the brain during adolescence may be related with the development of psychopathologies such as depression and social anxiety in adulthood. In the first experiment, we examined long-term effects of repeated social stress during adolescence on adult social approach-avoidance behavior. For that purpose, adolescent male Wistar rats were exposed twice at postnatal day (Pnd) 45 and Pnd48 to the resident-intruder paradigm followed by three times psychosocial threat with the same resident. Three weeks after the last psychosocial threat experience the animals were behaviorally tested in a social approach-avoidance test. Socially stressed animals spent less time in the interaction zone with an unfamiliar male adult rat. These data suggest that animals exposed to social stress during adolescence show a higher level of social anxiety in adulthood. In the second experiment, we investigated whether these long-term effects of social stress during adolescence on behavior draw a parallel with changes in brain monoamine content, biosynthesis and turnover. Using the same experimental design as in the first experiment, HPLC analysis of various brain regions showed that there were no differences in monoamine content, monoamine biosynthesis and monoamines activity in the prefrontal cortex, hippocampus, hypothalamus and striatum in adulthood. These results indicate that long-lasting changes in social behavior following social stress during adolescence are not accompanied by changes in brain monoamine content, biosynthesis and turnover.

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