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J Neurosci Res. 2010 Aug 15;88(11):2524-33. doi: 10.1002/jnr.22403.

Chronic social isolation suppresses proplastic response and promotes proapoptotic signalling in prefrontal cortex of Wistar rats.

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Laboratory of Molecular Biology and Endocrinology, VINCA Institute of Nuclear Sciences, Belgrade, Serbia.


Successful adaptation to stress involves synergized actions of glucocorticoids and catecholamines at several levels of the CNS, including the prefrontal cortex (PFC). Inside the PFC, hormonal signals trigger concerted actions of transcriptional factors, such as glucocorticoid receptor (GR) and nuclear factor kappa B (NFkappaB), culminating in a balanced, proadaptive expression of their common genes, such as proplastic NCAM and/or apoptotic Bax and Bcl-2. In the present study, we hypothesized that chronic stress may compromise the balance between GR and NFkappaB signals and lead to an altered/maladaptive expression of their cognate genes in the PFC. Our results obtained with Wistar rats exposed to chronic social isolation indicated alterations of the GR relative to the NFkappaB, in favor of the GR, in both the cytoplasmic and the nuclear compartments of the PFC. Although these alterations did not affect the induction of proplastic NCAM gene, they decreased the NCAM sialylation necessary for plastic response and caused marked relocation of the mitochondrial membrane antiapoptotic Bcl-2 protein to its cytoplasmic form. Moreover, the compromised PSA-NCAM plastic response found under chronic stress was sustained after exposure of animals to the subsequent acute stress, whereas the proapoptotic signals were further emphasized. It is concluded that chronic social isolation of Wistar animals leads to a maladaptive response of the PFC, considering the diminishment of its plastic potential and potentiating of apoptosis. Such conditions in the PFC are likely to compromise its ability to interact with other CNS structures, such as the hippocampus, which is necessary for successful adaptation to stress.

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