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Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2015 Feb;49:19-31. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2014.11.017. Epub 2014 Nov 29.

Inoculation stress hypothesis of environmental enrichment.

Author information

1
Center for Addiction Research, Mitchell Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Texas Medical Branch, 301 University Blvd., Galveston, TX 77555, United States.
2
Center for Addiction Research, Mitchell Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Texas Medical Branch, 301 University Blvd., Galveston, TX 77555, United States. Electronic address: tom.green@utmb.edu.

Abstract

One hallmark of psychiatric conditions is the vast continuum of individual differences in susceptibility vs. resilience resulting from the interaction of genetic and environmental factors. The environmental enrichment paradigm is an animal model that is useful for studying a range of psychiatric conditions, including protective phenotypes in addiction and depression models. The major question is how environmental enrichment, a non-drug and non-surgical manipulation, can produce such robust individual differences in such a wide range of behaviors. This paper draws from a variety of published sources to outline a coherent hypothesis of inoculation stress as a factor producing the protective enrichment phenotypes. The basic tenet suggests that chronic mild stress from living in a complex environment and interacting non-aggressively with conspecifics can inoculate enriched rats against subsequent stressors and/or drugs of abuse. This paper reviews the enrichment phenotypes, mulls the fundamental nature of environmental enrichment vs. isolation, discusses the most appropriate control for environmental enrichment, and challenges the idea that cortisol/corticosterone equals stress. The intent of the inoculation stress hypothesis of environmental enrichment is to provide a scaffold with which to build testable hypotheses for the elucidation of the molecular mechanisms underlying these protective phenotypes and thus provide new therapeutic targets to treat psychiatric/neurological conditions.

KEYWORDS:

Corticosterone; Drug addiction; Environmental enrichment; Inoculation stress; Resilience

PMID:
25449533
PMCID:
PMC4305384
DOI:
10.1016/j.neubiorev.2014.11.017
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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