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Front Pharmacol. 2017 Sep 12;8:621. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2017.00621. eCollection 2017.

Stress-Induced Reduction of Dorsal Striatal D2 Dopamine Receptors Prevents Retention of a Newly Acquired Adaptive Coping Strategy.

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Department of Psychology, Center 'Daniel Bovet', Sapienza Università di RomaRome, Italy.
Department of Psychiatry, University of Michigan, Ann ArborMI, United States.
Fondazione Santa Lucia (IRCCS)Rome, Italy.


The inability to learn an adaptive coping strategy in a novel stressful condition leads to dysfunctional stress coping, a marker of mental disturbances. This study tested the involvement of dorsal striatal dopamine receptors in the dysfunctional coping with the Forced Swim test fostered by a previous experience of reduced food availability. Adult male mice were submitted to a temporary (12 days) reduction of food availability [food-restricted (FR)] or continuously free-fed (FF). Different groups of FF and FR mice were used to evaluate: (1) dorsal striatal mRNA levels of the two isoforms of the dopamine D2 receptor (D2S, D2L). (2) Forced Swim-induced c-fos expression in the dorsal striatum; (3) acquisition and 24 h retention of passive coping with Forced Swim. Additional groups of FF mice were tested for 24 h retention of passive coping acquired during a first experience with Forced Swim immediately followed by intra-striatal infusion of vehicle or two doses of the dopamine D2/D3 receptors antagonist sulpiride or the D1/D5 receptors antagonist SCH23390. Previous restricted feeding selectively reduced mRNA levels of both D2 isoforms and abolished Forced Swim-induced c-fos expression in the left Dorsolateral Striatum and selectively prevented 24 h retention of the coping strategy acquired in a first experience of Forced Swim. Finally, temporary blockade of left Dorsolateral Striatum D2/D3 receptors immediately following the first Forced Swim experience selectively reproduced the behavioral effect of restricted feeding in FF mice. In conclusion, the present results demonstrate that mice previously exposed to a temporary reduction of food availability show low striatal D2 receptors, a known marker of addiction-associated aberrant neuroplasticity, as well as liability to relapse into maladaptive stress coping strategies. Moreover, they offer strong support to a causal relationship between reduction of D2 receptors in the left Dorsolateral Striatum and impaired consolidation of newly acquired adaptive coping.


dopamine receptors; dorsolateral striatum; helplessness behavior; hemispheric bias; memory consolidation; sustained threat

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