Gender-Dependent Modulation of Brain Monoamines and Anxiety-like Behaviors in Mice with Genetic Serotonin Transporter and BDNF Deficiencies
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- Ren-Patterson, R.F., Cochran, L.W., Holmes, A. et al. Cell Mol Neurobiol (2006) 26: 753. doi:10.1007/s10571-006-9048-6
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1. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) supports serotonergic neuronal development and our recent study found that heterozygous mice lacking one BDNF gene allele interbred with male serotonin transporter (SERT) knockout mice had greater reductions in brain tissue serotonin concentrations, greater increases in anxiety-like behaviors and greater ACTH responses to stress than found in the SERT knockout mice alone.
2. We investigated here whether there might be gender differences in these consequences of combined SERT and BDNF deficiencies by extending the original studies to female mice, and also to an examination of the effects of ovariectomy and tamoxifen in these female mice, and of 21-day 17-β estradiol implantation to male mice.
3. We found that unlike the male SERT×BDNF-deficient mice, female SERT×BDNF mice appeared protected by their gender in having significantly lesser reductions in serotonin concentrations in hypothalamus and other brain regions than males, relative to controls. Likewise, in the elevated plus maze, female SERT×BDNF-deficient mice demonstrated no increases in the anxiety-like behaviors previously found in males.
4. Furthermore, female SERT×BDNF mice did not manifest the ∼40% reduction in the expression of TrkB receptors or the ∼30% reductions in dopamine and its metabolites that male SERT×BDNF did. After estradiol implantation in male SERT×BDNF mice, hypothalamic serotonin was significantly increased compared to vehicle-implanted mice. These findings support the hypothesis that estrogen may enhance BDNF function via its TrkB receptor, leading to alterations in the serotonin circuits, which modulate anxiety-like behaviors.
5. This double-mutant mouse model contributes to the knowledge base that will help in understanding gene×gene×gender interactions in studies of SERT and BDNF gene polymorphisms in human genetic diseases such as anxiety disorders and depression.