Stress-induced alterations in large-scale functional networks of the rodent brain

Marloes J. A. G. Henckens*, Kajo van der Marel, Annette van der Toorn, Anup G. Pillai, Guillen Fernandez, Rick M. Dijkhuizen, Marian Joels

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Stress-related psychopathology is associated with altered functioning of large-scale brain networks. Animal research into chronic stress, one of the most prominent environmental risk factors for development of psychopathology, has revealed molecular and cellular mechanisms potentially contributing to human mental disease. However, so far, these studies have not addressed the system-level changes in extended brain networks, thought to critically contribute to mental disorders. We here tested the effects of chronic stress exposure (10 days immobilization) on the structural integrity and functional connectivity patterns in the brain, using high-resolution structural MRI, diffusion kurtosis imaging, and resting-state functional MRI, while confirming the expected changes in neuronal dendritic morphology using Golgi-staining. Stress effectiveness was confirmed by a significantly lower body weight and increased adrenal weight. In line with previous research, stressed animals displayed neuronal dendritic hypertrophy in the amygdala and hypotrophy in the hippocampal and medial prefrontal cortex. Using independent component analysis of resting-state fMRI data, we identified ten functional connectivity networks in the rodent brain. Chronic stress appeared to increase connectivity within the somatosensory, visual, and default mode networks. Moreover, chronic stress exposure was associated with an increased volume and diffusivity of the lateral ventricles, whereas no other volumetric changes were observed. This study shows that chronic stress exposure in rodents induces alterations in functional network connectivity strength which partly resemble those observed in stress-related psychopathology. Moreover, these functional consequences of stress seem to be more prominent than the effects on gross volumetric change, indicating their significance for future research. (C) 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)312-322
Number of pages11
JournalNeuroimage
Volume105
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15-Jan-2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Stress
  • Functional connectivity
  • Dendritic morphology
  • Volumetry
  • Rs-fMRI
  • DKI
  • MEDIAL PREFRONTAL CORTEX
  • LONG-TERM POTENTIATION
  • ALTERS DENDRITIC MORPHOLOGY
  • CA3 PYRAMIDAL NEURONS
  • DEFAULT-MODE NETWORK
  • MAJOR DEPRESSIVE DISORDER
  • HIPPOCAMPAL VOLUME
  • BASOLATERAL AMYGDALA
  • RAT-BRAIN
  • CORTICOSTERONE TREATMENT

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