Behavior Genetics

, 41:787 | Cite as

Gene Expression in Aminergic and Peptidergic Cells During Aggression and Defeat: Relevance to Violence, Depression and Drug Abuse

  • Klaus A. Miczek
  • Ella M. Nikulina
  • Aki Takahashi
  • Herbert E. CovingtonIII
  • Jasmine J. Yap
  • Christopher O. Boyson
  • Akiko Shimamoto
  • Rosa M. M. de Almeida
Original Research

Abstract

In this review, we examine how experiences in social confrontations alter gene expression in mesocorticolimbic cells. The focus is on the target of attack and threat due to the prominent role of social defeat stress in the study of coping mechanisms and victimization. The initial operational definition of the socially defeated mouse by Ginsburg and Allee (1942) enabled the characterization of key endocrine, cardiovascular, and metabolic events during the initial response to an aggressive opponent and during the ensuing adaptations. Brief episodes of social defeat stress induce an augmented response to stimulant challenge as reflected by increased locomotion and increased extracellular dopamine (DA) in the nucleus accumbens (NAC). Cells in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) that project to the NAC were more active as indicated by increased expression of c-fos and Fos-immunoreactivity and BDNF. Intermittent episodes of social defeat stress result in increased mRNA for MOR in brainstem and limbic structures. These behavioral and neurobiological indices of sensitization persist for several months after the stress experience. The episodically defeated rats also self-administered intravenous cocaine during continuous access for 24 h (“binge”). By contrast, continuous social stress, particularly in the form of social subordination stress, leads to reduced appetite, compromised endocrine activities, and cardiovascular and metabolic abnormalities, and prefer sweets less as index of anhedonia. Cocaine challenges in subordinate rats result in a blunted psychomotor stimulant response and a reduced DA release in NAC. Subordinate rats self-administer cocaine less during continuous access conditions. These contrasting patterns of social stress result from continuous vs. intermittent exposure to social stress, suggesting divergent neuroadaptations for increased vulnerability to cocaine self-administration vs. deteriorated reward mechanisms characteristic of depressive-like profiles.

Keywords

Social stress Defeat Ventral tegmental area Dorsal raphe Amphetamine Cocaine Sensitization Tolerance Anhedonia 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank Mr. J. Thomas Sopko for his exceptional technical assistance. Preparation of this review and the original research from our own laboratory were supported by USPHS research grants AA05122, DA02632, DA026451 (EMN) and grants from the Alcoholic Beverage Medical Research Foundation (KAM, PI).

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Klaus A. Miczek
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Ella M. Nikulina
    • 2
    • 4
  • Aki Takahashi
    • 5
  • Herbert E. CovingtonIII
    • 6
  • Jasmine J. Yap
    • 7
  • Christopher O. Boyson
    • 1
  • Akiko Shimamoto
    • 1
  • Rosa M. M. de Almeida
    • 8
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyTufts UniversityMedfordUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryTufts University School of MedicineBostonUSA
  3. 3.Departments of Pharmacology and NeuroscienceTufts UniversityBostonUSA
  4. 4.Department of Basic Medical SciencesUniversity of Arizona College of MedicinePhoenixUSA
  5. 5.Mouse Genomics Resource LaboratoryNational Institute of GeneticsShizuokaJapan
  6. 6.Departments of Psychology and NeuroscienceDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  7. 7.Center for NeuroscienceUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA
  8. 8.Instituto de PsicologiaUFRGSPorto AlegreBrazil

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