Decreased dendritic spine density in posterodorsal medial amygdala neurons of proactive coping rats

Shobha Anilkumar, Deepika Patel, Sietse F de Boer, Sumantra Chattarji, Bauke Buwalda*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
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There are large individual differences in the way animals, including humans, behaviorally and physiologically cope with environmental challenges and opportunities. Rodents with either a proactive or reactive coping style not only differ in their capacity to adapt successfully to environmental conditions, but also have a differential susceptibility to develop stress-related (psycho)pathologies when coping fails. In this study, we explored if there are structural neuronal differences in spine density in brain regions important for the regulation of stress coping styles. For this, the individual coping styles of wild-type Groningen (WTG) rats were determined using their level of offensive aggressiveness assessed in the resident-intruder paradigm. Subsequently, brains from proactive (high-aggressive) and reactive (low-aggressive) rats were Golgi-cox stained for spine quantification. The results reveal that dendritic spine densities in the dorsal hippocampal CA1 region and basolateral amygdala are similar in rats with proactive and reactive coping styles. Interestingly, however, dendritic spine density in the medial amygdala (MeA) is strikingly reduced in the proactive coping rats. This brain region is reported to be strongly involved in rivalry aggression which is the criterion by which the coping styles in our study are dissociated. The possibility that structural differences in spine density in the MeA are involved in other behavioral traits of distinct coping styles needs further investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number112940
Number of pages6
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Early online date2020
Publication statusPublished - 15-Jan-2021


  • Coping styles
  • Resident-intruder paradigm
  • Proactive
  • Reactive
  • Dendritic spines
  • Medial amygdala

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