, Volume 22, Issue 6, pp 753–768 | Cite as

PERK signalling pathway mediates single prolonged stress-induced dysfunction of medial prefrontal cortex neurons



Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is characterized with abnormal learning and memory. Impairments in learning and memory are closely associated with apoptosis in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). We previously examined the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress was involved in the apoptosis in the mPFC of PTSD. The PERK pathway plays the important role in the ER stress-induced apoptosis. The aim of the present study was to explore the role of PERK pathway in neuronal apoptosis in the mPFC of rat models of PTSD. We used the single prolonged stress (SPS) to mimic PTSD in rats and studied the effects of the PERK pathway in mPFC. Learning and memory behavior were examined by Morris water maze and novel object recognition tests. Apoptosis in mPFC was detected by TUNEL staining. Our results showed decreased learning memory and increased apoptosis of mPFC neurons in rats exposed to SPS. SPS exposure upregulate mRNA expressions of PERK, p-PERK, eIF2α, p-eIF2α, nuclear ATF4 and C/EBP-homologous protein (CHOP) in mPFC neurons, but the protein levels of these molecules showed difference in magnitude and time course. GSK2606414 (an antagonist of PERK) treatment successfully reversed the above changes. These results suggested that the PERK pathway mediated SPS-induced neural apoptosis in the mPFC. These findings will be helpful in understanding mPFC-related pathogenesis of PTSD.


Post-traumatic stress disorder Medical prefrontal cortex Apoptosis PERK eIF2a 



This study was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 81571324) and Natural Science Foundation of Shenyang (F-16-205-1-53). What’s more, we feel grateful for the Technical support from the China Medical University Experiment Center.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no financial or other conflicts of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.PTSD Lab, Department of Histo-Embryology, Basic Medical Sciences CollegeChina Medical UniversityShenyangChina

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