Overexpression of Mineralocorticoid Receptors in the Mouse Forebrain Partly Alleviates the Effects of Chronic Early Life Stress on Spatial Memory, Neurogenesis and Synaptic Function in the Dentate Gyrus

Sofia Kanatsou, Henk Karst, Despoina Kortesidou, Rachelle A. van den Akker, Jan den Blaauwen, Anjanette P. Harris, Jonathan R. Seckl, Harm J. Krugers, Marian Joels

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    Evidence from human studies suggests that high expression of brain mineralocorticoid receptors (MR) may promote resilience against negative consequences of stress exposure, including childhood trauma. We examined, in mice, whether brain MR overexpression can alleviate the effects of chronic early life stress (ELS) on contextual memory formation under low and high stress conditions, and neurogenesis and synaptic function of dentate gyrus granular cells. Male mice were exposed to ELS by housing the dam with limited nesting and bedding material from postnatal day (PND) 2 to 9. We investigated the moderating role of MRs by using forebrain-specific transgenic MR overexpression (MR-tg) mice. Low-stress contextual (i.e., object relocation) memory formation was hampered by ELS in wildtype but not MR-tg mice. Anxiety like behavior and high-stress contextual (i.e., fear) memory formation were unaffected by ELS and/or MR expression level. At the cellular level, an interaction effect was observed between ELS and MR overexpression on the number of doublecortin-positive cells, with a significant difference between the wildtype ELS and MR-tg ELS groups. No interaction was found regarding Ki-67 and BrdU staining. A significant interaction between ELS and MR expression was further observed with regard to mEPSCs and mIPSC frequency. The ratio of evoked EPSC/IPSC or NMDA/AMPA responses was unaffected. Overall, these results suggest that ELS affects contextual memory formation under low stress conditions as well as neurogenesis and synaptic transmission in dentate granule cells, an effect that can be alleviated by MR-overexpression.

    Originele taal-2English
    Aantal pagina's13
    TijdschriftFrontiers in cellular neuroscience
    Nummer van het tijdschrift132
    StatusPublished - 29-mei-2017

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