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PLoS One. 2014 Mar 3;9(3):e90726. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0090726. eCollection 2014.

Evidence that the periaqueductal gray matter mediates the facilitation of panic-like reactions in neonatally-isolated adult rats.

Author information

1
Department of Physiological Sciences, Federal University of Espírito Santo, Vitória, ES, Brazil; Department of Sports, Federal University of Espírito Santo, Vitória, ES, Brazil.
2
Department of Physiological Sciences, Federal University of Espírito Santo, Vitória, ES, Brazil.
3
Department of Psychobiology, Federal University of São Paulo, São Paulo, SP, Brazil.

Abstract

Plenty of evidence suggests that childhood separation anxiety (CSA) predisposes the subject to adult-onset panic disorder (PD). As well, panic is frequently comorbid with both anxiety and depression. The brain mechanisms whereby CSA predisposes to PD are but completely unknown in spite of the increasing evidence that panic attacks are mediated at midbrain's dorsal periaqueductal gray matter (DPAG). Accordingly, here we examined whether the neonatal social isolation (NSI), a model of CSA, facilitates panic-like behaviors produced by electrical stimulations of DPAG of rats as adults. Eventual changes in anxiety and depression were also assessed in the elevated plus-maze (EPM) and forced-swimming test (FST) respectively. Male pups were subjected to 3-h daily isolations from post-natal day 2 (PN2) until weaning (PN21) allotting half of litters in individual boxes inside a sound-attenuated chamber (NSI, n = 26) whilst siblings (sham-isolated rats, SHAM, n = 27) and dam were moved to another box in a separate room. Non-handled controls (CTRL, n = 18) remained undisturbed with dams until weaning. As adults, rats were implanted with electrodes into the DPAG (PN60) and subjected to sessions of intracranial stimulation (PN65), EPM (PN66) and FST (PN67-PN68). Groups were compared by Fisher's exact test (stimulation sites), likelihood ratio chi-square tests (stimulus-response threshold curves) and Bonferroni's post hoc t-tests (EPM and FST), for P<0.05. Notably, DPAG-evoked panic-like responses of immobility, exophthalmus, trotting, galloping and jumping were markedly facilitated in NSI rats relative to both SHAM and CTRL groups. Conversely, anxiety and depression scores either did not change or were even reduced in neonatally-handled groups relative to CTRL, respectively. Data are the first behavioral evidence in animals that early-life separation stress produces the selective facilitation of panic-like behaviors in adulthood. Most importantly, results implicate the DPAG not only in panic attacks but also in separation-anxious children's predispositions to the late development of PD.

PMID:
24594924
PMCID:
PMC3980704
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0090726
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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