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Transl Psychiatry. 2018 Nov 28;8(1):255. doi: 10.1038/s41398-018-0300-x.

Glucocorticoid receptor signaling in astrocytes is required for aversive memory formation.

Author information

1
Department of Molecular Neuropharmacology, Institute of Pharmacology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Cracow, 31-343, Poland.
2
Team Brain Microcircuits in Psychiatric Diseases, BioMed X Innovation Center, Heidelberg, 69120, Germany.
3
Department of Neuroanatomy, Institute of Zoology and Biomedical Research, Jagiellonian University, Cracow, 30-387, Poland.
4
Department of Molecular Neuropharmacology, Institute of Pharmacology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Cracow, 31-343, Poland. slezak@if-pan.krakow.pl.
5
Team Brain Microcircuits in Psychiatric Diseases, BioMed X Innovation Center, Heidelberg, 69120, Germany. slezak@if-pan.krakow.pl.

Abstract

Stress elicits the release of glucocorticoids (GCs) that regulate energy metabolism and play a role in emotional memory. Astrocytes express glucocorticoid receptors (GR), but their contribution to cognitive effects of GC's action in the brain is unknown. To address this question, we studied how astrocyte-specific elimination of GR affects animal behavior known to be regulated by stress. Mice with astrocyte-specific ablation of GR presented impaired aversive memory expression in two different paradigms of Pavlovian learning: contextual fear conditioning and conditioned place aversion. These mice also displayed compromised regulation of genes encoding key elements of the glucose metabolism pathway upon GR stimulation. In particular, we identified that the glial, but not the neuronal isoform of a crucial stress-response molecule, Sgk1, undergoes GR-dependent regulation in vivo and demonstrated the involvement of SGK1 in regulation of glucose uptake in astrocytes. Together, our results reveal astrocytes as a central element in GC-dependent formation of aversive memory and suggest their relevance for stress-induced alteration of brain glucose metabolism. Consequently, astrocytes should be considered as a cellular target of therapies of stress-induced brain diseases.

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