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Neuropsychopharmacology. 2014 Aug;39(9):2252-62. doi: 10.1038/npp.2014.76. Epub 2014 Apr 1.

Opposing effects of acute versus chronic blockade of frontal cortex somatostatin-positive inhibitory neurons on behavioral emotionality in mice.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.
1] Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA [2] Center for Neuroscience, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.


Reduced expression of somatostatin (SST) is reported across chronic brain conditions including major depression and normal aging. SST is a signaling neuropeptide and marker of gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA) neurons, which specifically inhibit pyramidal neuron dendrites. Studies in auditory cortex suggest that chronic reduction in dendritic inhibition induces compensatory homeostatic adaptations that oppose the effects of acute inhibition. Whether such mechanisms occur in frontal cortex (FC) and affect behavioral outcome is not known. Here, we used two complementary viral vector strategies to examine the effects of acute vs chronic inhibition of SST-positive neurons on behavioral emotionality in adult mice. SST-IRES-Cre mice were injected in FC (prelimbic/precingulate) with CRE-dependent adeno-associated viral (AAV) vector encoding the engineered Gi/o-coupled human muscarinic M4 designer receptor exclusively activated by a designer drug (DREADD-hM4Di) or a control reporter (AAV-DIO-mCherry) for acute or chronic cellular inhibition. A separate cohort was injected with CRE-dependent AAV vectors expressing diphtheria toxin (DTA) to selectively ablate FC SST neurons. Mice were assessed for anxiety- and depressive-like behaviors (defined as emotionality). Results indicate that acute inhibition of FC SST neurons increased behavioral emotionality, whereas chronic inhibition decreased behavioral emotionality. Furthermore, ablation of FC SST neurons also decreased behavioral emotionality under baseline condition and after chronic stress. Together, our results reveal opposite effects of acute and chronic inhibition of FC SST neurons on behavioral emotionality and suggest the recruitment of homeostatic plasticity mechanisms that have implications for understanding the neurobiology of chronic brain conditions affecting dendritic-targeting inhibitory neurons.

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