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Horm Behav. 2011 Mar;59(3):331-7. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2010.09.005. Epub 2010 Sep 21.

Individual differences in the effect of social defeat on anhedonia and histone acetylation in the rat hippocampus.

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Department of Biomedical Sciences, Florida State University College of Medicine, Tallahassee, FL 32306, USA.


Major depression is a growing problem worldwide with variation in symptoms and response to treatment. Individual differences in response to stress may contribute to such observed individual variation in behavior and pathology. Therefore, we investigated depressive-like behavior following exposure to repeated social defeat in a rat model of individual differences in response to novelty. Rats are known to exhibit either high locomotor activity and sustained exploration (high responders, HR) or low activity with minimal exploration (low responders, LR) in a novel environment. We measured anhedonia using the sucrose preference test in HR and LR rats following exposure to social defeat stress or in basal, non-defeated conditions. We then compared histone acetylation in the hippocampus in HR and LR defeat and non-defeated rats and measured mRNA levels of histone deacetylases (HDAC) 3, 4, 5, and Creb binding protein (CBP). We found that basally, HR rats consumed more sucrose solution than LR rats, but reduced consumption after exposure to defeat. LR rats' preference was unaffected by social defeat. We found that HR rats had higher levels of histone acetylation on H3K14 and H2B than LR rats in non-stress conditions. Following defeat, this acetylation pattern changed differentially, with HR rats decreasing acetylation of H3K14 and H2B and LR's increasing acetylation of H3K14. Acetylation on histone H4 decreased following defeat with no individual variation. Basal differences in CBP expression levels may underlie the observed acetylation pattern; however we found no significant effects of defeat in levels of HDACs 3, 4, 5 in the hippocampus.

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