Other Publications

Other Publications

Papers are listed in reverse-chronological order. Full-text PDFs are available by clicking the button located under each manuscript image.


2018

 

Volitional social interaction prevents drug addiction in rat models

Nature Neuroscience. 2018 Oct 15. doi: 10.1038/s41593-018-0246-6

Venniro M, Zhang M, Caprioli D, Hoots J,  Golden SA, Heins C, Morales M, Epstein DH, Shaham Y.

Addiction treatment has not been appreciably improved by neuroscientific research. One problem is that mechanistic studies using rodent models do not incorporate volitional social factors, which play a critical role in human addiction. Here, using rats, we introduce an operant model of choice between drugs and social interaction. Independent of sex, drug class, drug dose, training conditions, abstinence duration, social housing, or addiction score in Diagnostic & Statistical Manual IV-based and intermittent access models, operant social reward prevented drug self-administration. This protection was lessened by delay or punishment of the social reward but neither measure was correlated with the addiction score. Social-choice-induced abstinence also prevented incubation of methamphetamine craving. This protective effect was associated with activation of central amygdala PKCδ-expressing inhibitory neurons and inhibition of anterior insular cortex activity. These findings highlight the need for incorporating social factors into neuroscience-based addiction research and support the wider implantation of socially based addiction treatments.

 

Cell-Type-Specific Role of ΔFosB in Nucleus Accumbens in Modulating Intermale Aggression.

J Neurosci. 2018 Jun 27;38(26):5913-5924. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0296-18.2018. 

Aleyasin H, Flanigan ME, Golden SA, Takahashi A, Menard C, Pfau ML, Multer J, Pina J, McCabe KA, Bhatti N, Hodes GE, Heshmati M, Neve RL, Nestler EJ, Heller EA, Russo SJ.

A growing number of studies implicate the brain's reward circuitry in aggressive behavior. However, the cellular and molecular mechanisms within brain reward regions that modulate the intensity of aggression as well as motivation for it have been underexplored. Here, we investigate the cell-type-specific influence of ΔFosB, a transcription factor known to regulate a range of reward and motivated behaviors, acting in the nucleus accumbens (NAc), a key reward region, in male aggression in mice. We show that ΔFosB is specifically increased in dopamine D1 receptor (Drd1)-expressing medium spiny neurons (D1-MSNs) in NAc after repeated aggressive encounters. Viral-mediated induction of ΔFosB selectively in D1-MSNs of NAc intensifies aggressive behavior without affecting the preference for the aggression-paired context in a conditioned place preference (CPP) assay. In contrast, ΔFosB induction selectively in D2-MSNs reduces the time spent exploring the aggression-paired context during CPP without affecting the intensity of aggression per se. These data strongly support a dissociable cell-type-specific role for ΔFosB in the NAc in modulating aggression and aggression reward.

 

Epigenetic modulation of inflammation and synaptic plasticity promotes resilience against stress in mice.

Nat Commun. 2018 Feb 2;9(1):477. doi: 10.1038/s41467-017-02794-5.

Wang J, Hodes GE, Zhang H, Zhang S, Zhao W, Golden SA, Bi W, Menard C, Kana V, Leboeuf M, Xie M, Bregman D, Pfau ML, Flanigan ME, Esteban-Fernández A, Yemul S, Sharma A, Ho L, Dixon R, Merad M, Han MH, Russo SJ, Pasinetti GM.

Major depressive disorder is associated with abnormalities in the brain and the immune system. Chronic stress in animals showed that epigenetic and inflammatory mechanisms play important roles in mediating resilience and susceptibility to depression. Here, through a high-throughput screening, we identify two phytochemicals, dihydrocaffeic acid (DHCA) and malvidin-3'-O-glucoside (Mal-gluc) that are effective in promoting resilience against stress by modulating brain synaptic plasticity and peripheral inflammation. DHCA/Mal-gluc also significantly reduces depression-like phenotypes in a mouse model of increased systemic inflammation induced by transplantation of hematopoietic progenitor cells from stress-susceptible mice. DHCA reduces pro-inflammatory interleukin 6 (IL-6) generations by inhibiting DNA methylation at the CpG-rich IL-6 sequences introns 1 and 3, while Mal-gluc modulates synaptic plasticity by increasing histone acetylation of the regulatory sequences of the Rac1 gene. Peripheral inflammation and synaptic maladaptation are in line with newly hypothesized clinical intervention targets for depression that are not addressed by currently available antidepressants.

 

Cell-type-specific role for nucleus accumbens neuroligin-2 in depression and stress susceptibility.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2018 Jan 30;115(5):1111-1116. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1719014115.

Heshmati M, Aleyasin H, Menard C, Christoffel DJ, Flanigan ME, Pfau ML, Hodes GE, Lepack AE, Bicks LK, Takahashi A, Chandra R, Turecki G, Lobo MK, Maze I, Golden SA, Russo SJ.

Behavioral coping strategies are critical for active resilience to stress and depression; here we describe a role for neuroligin-2 (NLGN-2) in the nucleus accumbens (NAc). Neuroligins (NLGN) are a family of neuronal postsynaptic cell adhesion proteins that are constituents of the excitatory and inhibitory synapse. Importantly, NLGN-3 and NLGN-4 mutations are strongly implicated as candidates underlying the development of neuropsychiatric disorders with social disturbances such as autism, but the role of NLGN-2 in neuropsychiatric disease states is unclear. Here we show a reduction in NLGN-2 gene expression in the NAc of patients with major depressive disorder. Chronic social defeat stress in mice also decreases NLGN-2 selectively in dopamine D1-positive cells, but not dopamine D2-positive cells, within the NAc of stress-susceptible mice. Functional NLGN-2 knockdown produces bidirectional, cell-type-specific effects: knockdown in dopamine D1-positive cells promotes subordination and stress susceptibility, whereas knockdown in dopamine D2-positive cells mediates active defensive behavior. These findings establish a behavioral role for NAc NLGN-2 in stress and depression; provide a basis for targeted, cell-type specific therapy; and highlight the role of active behavioral coping mechanisms in stress susceptibility.

 

2017

Drp1 Mitochondrial Fission in D1 Neurons Mediates Behavioral and Cellular Plasticity during Early Cocaine Abstinence.

Neuron. 2017 Dec 20;96(6):1327-1341.e6. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2017.11.037.

Chandra R, Engeln M, Schiefer C, Patton MH, Martin JA, Werner CT, Riggs LM, Francis TC, McGlincy M, Evans B, Nam H, Das S, Girven K, Konkalmatt P, Gancarz AM, Golden SA, Iñiguez SD, Russo SJ, Turecki G, Mathur BN, Creed M, Dietz DM, Lobo MK.

Altered brain energy homeostasis is a key adaptation occurring in the cocaine-addicted brain, but the effect of cocaine on the fundamental source of energy, mitochondria, is unknown. We demonstrate an increase of dynamin-related protein-1 (Drp1), the mitochondrial fission mediator, in nucleus accumbens (NAc) after repeated cocaine exposure and in cocaine-dependent individuals. Mdivi-1, a demonstrated fission inhibitor, blunts cocaine seeking and locomotor sensitization, while blocking c-Fos induction and excitatory input onto dopamine receptor-1 (D1) containing NAc medium spiny neurons (MSNs). Drp1 and fission promoting Drp1 are increased in D1-MSNs, consistent with increased smaller mitochondria in D1-MSN dendrites after repeated cocaine. Knockdown of Drp1 in D1-MSNs blocks drug seeking after cocaine self-administration, while enhancing the fission promoting Drp1 enhances seeking after long-term abstinence from cocaine. We demonstrate a role for altered mitochondrial fission in the NAc, during early cocaine abstinence, suggesting potential therapeutic treatment of disrupting mitochondrial fission in cocaine addiction.

 

Social stress induces neurovascular pathology promoting depression.

Nat Neurosci. 2017 Dec;20(12):1752-1760. doi: 10.1038/s41593-017-0010-3.

Menard C, Pfau ML, Hodes GE, Kana V, Wang VX, Bouchard S, Takahashi A, Flanigan ME, Aleyasin H, LeClair KB, Janssen WG, Labonté B, Parise EM, Lorsch ZS, Golden SA, Heshmati M, Tamminga C, Turecki G, Campbell M, Fayad ZA, Tang CY, Merad M, Russo SJ.

Studies suggest that heightened peripheral inflammation contributes to the pathogenesis of major depressive disorder. We investigated the effect of chronic social defeat stress, a mouse model of depression, on blood-brain barrier (BBB) permeability and infiltration of peripheral immune signals. We found reduced expression of the endothelial cell tight junction protein claudin-5 (Cldn5) and abnormal blood vessel morphology in nucleus accumbens (NAc) of stress-susceptible but not resilient mice. CLDN5 expression was also decreased in NAc of depressed patients. Cldn5 downregulation was sufficient to induce depression-like behaviors following subthreshold social stress whereas chronic antidepressant treatment rescued Cldn5 loss and promoted resilience. Reduced BBB integrity in NAc of stress-susceptible or mice injected with adeno-associated virus expressing shRNA against Cldn5 caused infiltration of the peripheral cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6) into brain parenchyma and subsequent expression of depression-like behaviors. These findings suggest that chronic social stress alters BBB integrity through loss of tight junction protein Cldn5, promoting peripheral IL-6 passage across the BBB and depression.

 

An emerging role for the lateral habenula in aggressive behavior.

Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2017 Nov;162:79-86. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2017.05.003.

Flanigan M, Aleyasin H, Takahashi A, Golden SA, Russo SJ.

Inter-male aggression is an essential component of social behavior in organisms from insects to humans. However, when expressed inappropriately, aggression poses significant threats to the mental and physical health of both the aggressor and the target. Inappropriate aggression is a common feature of numerous neuropsychiatric disorders in humans and has been hypothesized to result from the atypical activation of reward circuitry in response to social targets. The lateral habenula (LHb) has recently been identified as a major node of the classical reward circuitry and inhibits the release of dopamine from the midbrain to signal negative valence. Here, we discuss the evidence linking LHb function to aggression and its valence, arguing that strong LHb outputs to the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and the dorsal raphe nucleus (DRN) are likely to play roles in aggression and its rewarding components. Future studies should aim to elucidate how various inputs and outputs of the LHb shape motivation and reward in the context of aggression.

 

2016

Integrative Analysis of Sex-Specific microRNA Networks Following Stress in Mouse Nucleus Accumbens.

Front Mol Neurosci. 2016 Dec 23;9:144. doi: 10.3389/fnmol.2016.00144. 

Pfau ML, Purushothaman I, Feng J, Golden SA, Aleyasin H, Lorsch ZS, Cates HM, Flanigan ME, Menard C, Heshmati M, Wang Z, Ma'ayan A, Shen L, Hodes GE, Russo SJ.

Adult women are twice as likely as men to suffer from affective and anxiety disorders, although the mechanisms underlying heightened female stress susceptibility are incompletely understood. Recent findings in mouse Nucleus Accumbens (NAc) suggest a role for DNA methylation-driven sex differences in genome-wide transcriptional profiles. However, the role of another epigenetic process-microRNA (miR) regulation-has yet to be explored. We exposed male and female mice to Subchronic Variable Stress (SCVS), a stress paradigm that produces depression-like behavior in female, but not male, mice, and performed next generation mRNA and miR sequencing on NAc tissue. We applied a combination of differential expression, miR-mRNA network and functional enrichment analyses to characterize the transcriptional and post-transcriptional landscape of sex differences in NAc stress response. We find that male and female mice exhibit largely non-overlapping miR and mRNA profiles following SCVS. The two sexes also show enrichment of different molecular pathways and functions. Collectively, our results suggest that males and females mount fundamentally different transcriptional and post-transcriptional responses to SCVS and engage sex-specific molecular processes following stress. These findings have implications for the pathophysiology and treatment of stress-related disorders in women.

 

Sex Differences in Nucleus Accumbens Transcriptome Profiles Associated with Susceptibility versus Resilience to Subchronic Variable Stress.

J Neurosci. 2015 Dec 16;35(50):16362-76. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1392-15.2015.

Pfau ML, Purushothaman I, Feng J, Golden SA, Aleyasin H, Lorsch ZS, Cates HM, Flanigan ME, Menard C, Heshmati M, Wang Z, Ma'ayan A, Shen L, Hodes GE, Russo SJ.

Depression and anxiety disorders are more prevalent in females, but the majority of research in animal models, the first step in finding new treatments, has focused predominantly on males. Here we report that exposure to subchronic variable stress (SCVS) induces depression-associated behaviors in female mice, whereas males are resilient as they do not develop these behavioral abnormalities. In concert with these different behavioral responses, transcriptional analysis of nucleus accumbens (NAc), a major brain reward region, by use of RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) revealed markedly different patterns of stress regulation of gene expression between the sexes. Among the genes displaying sex differences was DNA methyltransferase 3a (Dnmt3a), which shows a greater induction in females after SCVS. Interestingly, Dnmt3a expression levels were increased in the NAc of depressed humans, an effect seen in both males and females. Local overexpression of Dnmt3a in NAc rendered male mice more susceptible to SCVS, whereas Dnmt3a knock-out in this region rendered females more resilient, directly implicating this gene in stress responses. Associated with this enhanced resilience of female mice upon NAc knock-out of Dnmt3a was a partial shift of the NAc female transcriptome toward the male pattern after SCVS. These data indicate that males and females undergo different patterns of transcriptional regulation in response to stress and that a DNA methyltransferase in NAc contributes to sex differences in stress vulnerability.

 

Mefloquine in the nucleus accumbens promotes social avoidance and anxiety-like behavior in mice.

Neuropharmacology. 2016 Feb;101:351-7. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2015.10.013.

Heshmati M, Golden SA, Pfau ML, Christoffel DJ, Seeley EL, Cahill ME, Khibnik LA, Russo SJ.

Mefloquine continues to be a key drug used for malaria chemoprophylaxis and treatment, despite reports of adverse events like depression and anxiety. It is unknown how mefloquine acts within the central nervous system to cause depression and anxiety or why some individuals are more vulnerable. We show that intraperitoneal injection of mefloquine in mice, when coupled to subthreshold social defeat stress, is sufficient to produce depression-like social avoidance behavior. Direct infusion of mefloquine into the nucleus accumbens (NAc), a key brain reward region, increased stress-induced social avoidance and anxiety behavior. In contrast, infusion into the ventral hippocampus had no effect. Whole cell recordings from NAc medium spiny neurons indicated that mefloquine application increases the frequency of spontaneous excitatory postsynaptic currents, a synaptic adaptation that we have previously shown to be associated with increased susceptibility to social defeat stress. Together, these data demonstrate a role for the NAc in mefloquine-induced depression and anxiety-like behaviors.

 

2015

ACF chromatin-remodeling complex mediates stress-induced depressive-like behavior.

Nat Med. 2015 Oct;21(10):1146-53. doi: 10.1038/nm.3939. 

Sun H, Damez-Werno DM, Scobie KN, Shao NY, Dias C, Rabkin J, Koo JW, Korb E, Bagot RC, Ahn FH, Cahill ME, Labonté B, Mouzon E, Heller EA, Cates H, Golden SA, Gleason K, Russo SJ, Andrews S, Neve R, Kennedy PJ, Maze I, Dietz DM, Allis CD, Turecki G, Varga-Weisz P, Tamminga C, Shen L, Nestler EJ.

Improved treatment for major depressive disorder (MDD) remains elusive because of the limited understanding of its underlying biological mechanisms. It is likely that stress-induced maladaptive transcriptional regulation in limbic neural circuits contributes to the development of MDD, possibly through epigenetic factors that regulate chromatin structure. We establish that persistent upregulation of the ACF (ATP-utilizing chromatin assembly and remodeling factor) ATP-dependent chromatin-remodeling complex, occurring in the nucleus accumbens of stress-susceptible mice and depressed humans, is necessary for stress-induced depressive-like behaviors. We found that altered ACF binding after chronic stress was correlated with altered nucleosome positioning, particularly around the transcription start sites of affected genes. These alterations in ACF binding and nucleosome positioning were associated with repressed expression of genes implicated in susceptibility to stress. Together, our findings identify the ACF chromatin-remodeling complex as a critical component in the development of susceptibility to depression and in regulating stress-related behaviors.

 

Effects of acute and chronic social defeat stress are differentially mediated by the dynorphin/kappa-opioid receptor system.

Behav Pharmacol. 2015 Oct;26(7 Spec No):654-63. doi: 10.1097/FBP.0000000000000155.

Donahue RJ, Landino SM, Golden SA, Carroll FI, Russo SJ, Carlezon WA Jr.

Improved treatment for major depressive disorder (MDD) remains elusive because of the limited understanding of its underlying biological mechanisms. It is likely that stress-induced maladaptive transcriptional regulation in limbic neural circuits contributes to the development of MDD, possibly through epigenetic factors that regulate chromatin structure. We establish that persistent upregulation of the ACF (ATP-utilizing chromatin assembly and remodeling factor) ATP-dependent chromatin-remodeling complex, occurring in the nucleus accumbens of stress-susceptible mice and depressed humans, is necessary for stress-induced depressive-like behaviors. We found that altered ACF binding after chronic stress was correlated with altered nucleosome positioning, particularly around the transcription start sites of affected genes. These alterations in ACF binding and nucleosome positioning were associated with repressed expression of genes implicated in susceptibility to stress. Together, our findings identify the ACF chromatin-remodeling complex as a critical component in the development of susceptibility to depression and in regulating stress-related behaviors.

 

2014

Locus-specific epigenetic remodeling controls addiction- and depression-related behaviors.

Nat Neurosci. 2014 Dec;17(12):1720-7. doi: 10.1038/nn.3871. Epub 2014 Oct 27.

Heller EA, Cates HM, Peña CJ, Sun H, Shao N, Feng J, Golden SA, Herman JP, Walsh JJ, Mazei-Robison M, Ferguson D, Knight S, Gerber MA, Nievera C, Han MH, Russo SJ, Tamminga CS, Neve RL, Shen L, Zhang HS, Zhang F, Nestler EJ.

Chronic exposure to drugs of abuse or stress regulates transcription factors, chromatin-modifying enzymes and histone post-translational modifications in discrete brain regions. Given the promiscuity of the enzymes involved, it has not yet been possible to obtain direct causal evidence to implicate the regulation of transcription and consequent behavioral plasticity by chromatin remodeling that occurs at a single gene. We investigated the mechanism linking chromatin dynamics to neurobiological phenomena by applying engineered transcription factors to selectively modify chromatin at a specific mouse gene in vivo. We found that histone methylation or acetylation at the Fosb locus in nucleus accumbens, a brain reward region, was sufficient to control drug- and stress-evoked transcriptional and behavioral responses via interactions with the endogenous transcriptional machinery. This approach allowed us to relate the epigenetic landscape at a given gene directly to regulation of its expression and to its subsequent effects on reward behavior.

 

Individual differences in the peripheral immune system promote resilience versus susceptibility to social stress.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Nov 11;111(45):16136-41. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1415191111.

Hodes GE, Pfau ML, Leboeuf M, Golden SA, Christoffel DJ, Bregman D, Rebusi N, Heshmati M, Aleyasin H, Warren BL, Lebonté B, Horn S, Lapidus KA, Stelzhammer V, Wong EH, Bahn S, Krishnan V, Bolaños-Guzman CA, Murrough JW, Merad M, Russo SJ.

Depression and anxiety disorders are associated with increased release of peripheral cytokines; however, their functional relevance remains unknown. Using a social stress model in mice, we find preexisting individual differences in the sensitivity of the peripheral immune system that predict and promote vulnerability to social stress. Cytokine profiles were obtained 20 min after the first social stress exposure. Of the cytokines regulated by stress, IL-6 was most highly up-regulated only in mice that ultimately developed a susceptible behavioral phenotype following a subsequent chronic stress, and levels remained elevated for at least 1 mo. We confirmed a similar elevation of serum IL-6 in two separate cohorts of patients with treatment-resistant major depressive disorder. Before any physical contact in mice, we observed individual differences in IL-6 levels from ex vivo stimulated leukocytes that predict susceptibility versus resilience to a subsequent stressor. To shift the sensitivity of the peripheral immune system to a pro- or antidepressant state, bone marrow (BM) chimeras were generated by transplanting hematopoietic progenitor cells from stress-susceptible mice releasing high IL-6 or from IL-6 knockout (IL-6(-/-)) mice. Stress-susceptible BM chimeras exhibited increased social avoidance behavior after exposure to either subthreshold repeated social defeat stress (RSDS) or a purely emotional stressor termed witness defeat. IL-6(-/-) BM chimeric and IL-6(-/-) mice, as well as those treated with a systemic IL-6 monoclonal antibody, were resilient to social stress. These data establish that preexisting differences in stress-responsive IL-6 release from BM-derived leukocytes functionally contribute to social stress-induced behavioral abnormalities.

 

Stress and CRF gate neural activation of BDNF in the mesolimbic reward pathway.

Nat Neurosci. 2014 Jan;17(1):27-9. doi: 10.1038/nn.3591.

Walsh JJ, Friedman AK, Sun H, Heller EA, Ku SM, Juarez B, Burnham VL, Mazei-Robison MS, Ferguson D, Golden SA, Koo JW, Chaudhury D, Christoffel DJ, Pomeranz L, Friedman JM, Russo SJ, Nestler EJ, Han MH.

Mechanisms controlling release of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the mesolimbic dopamine reward pathway remain unknown. We report that phasic optogenetic activation of this pathway increases BDNF amounts in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) of socially stressed mice but not of stress-naive mice. This stress gating of BDNF signaling is mediated by corticotrophin-releasing factor (CRF) acting in the NAc. These results unravel a stress context-detecting function of the brain's mesolimbic circuit.

 

Fluoxetine epigenetically alters the CaMKIIα promoter in nucleus accumbens to regulate ΔFosB binding and antidepressant effects.

Neuropsychopharmacology. 2014 Apr;39(5):1178-86. doi: 10.1038/npp.2013.319.

Robison AJ, Vialou V, Sun HS, Labonte B, Golden SA, Dias C, Turecki G, Tamminga C, Russo S, Mazei-Robison M, Nestler EJ.

Chronic social defeat stress in mice produces a susceptible phenotype characterized by several behavioral abnormalities consistent with human depression that are reversed by chronic but not acute exposure to antidepressant medications. Recent work in addiction models demonstrates that the transcription factor ΔFosB and protein kinase calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) are co-regulated in nucleus accumbens (NAc), a brain reward region implicated in both addiction and depression models including social defeat. Previous work has also demonstrated that ΔFosB is induced in NAc after chronic social defeat stress or after chronic antidepressant treatment, wherein it mediates a pro-resilience or antidepressant-like phenotype. Here, using chromatin immunoprecipitation assays, we found that ΔFosB binds the CaMKIIα gene promoter in NAc and that this binding increases after mice are exposed to chronic social defeat stress. Paradoxically, chronic exposure to the antidepressant fluoxetine reduces binding of ΔFosB to the CaMKIIα promoter and reduces CaMKII expression in NAc, despite the fact that ΔFosB is induced under these conditions. These data suggest a novel epigenetic mechanism of antidepressant action, whereby fluoxetine induces some chromatin change at the CaMKIIα promoter, which blocks the ΔFosB binding. Indeed, chronic fluoxetine reduces acetylation and increases lysine-9 dimethylation of histone H3 at the CaMKIIα promoter in NAc, effects also seen in depressed humans exposed to antidepressants. Overexpression of CaMKII in NAc blocks fluoxetine's antidepressant effects in the chronic social defeat paradigm, whereas inhibition of CaMKII activity in NAc mimics fluoxetine exposure. These findings suggest that epigenetic suppression of CaMKIIα expression in NAc is behaviorally relevant and offer a novel pathway for possible therapeutic intervention in depression and related syndromes.

 

2013

Incubation of fear.

Curr Protoc Neurosci. 2013 Jul;Chapter 6:Unit 6.27. doi: 10.1002/0471142301.ns0627s64.

Pickens CL, Golden SA, Nair SG.

While fear and anxiety can grow over time in anxiety disorders, most efforts to model this phenomenon with fear conditioning in rodents cause fear that remains stable or decreases across weeks or months. Here, we describe several methods to induce conditioned fear that grows over the course of 1 month and is sustained for at least 2 months using an extended fear conditioning approach. These methods include a very reliable standard method that causes multiple fear measures to increase over months, as well as alternative methods.

 

Kalirin-7 mediates cocaine-induced AMPA receptor and spine plasticity, enabling incentive sensitization.

J Neurosci. 2013 Jul 3;33(27):11012-22. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1097-13.2013.

Wang X, Cahill ME, Werner CT, Christoffel DJ, Golden SA, Xie Z, Loweth JA, Marinelli M, Russo SJ, Penzes P, Wolf ME.

It is well established that behavioral sensitization to cocaine is accompanied by increased spine density and AMPA receptor (AMPAR) transmission in the nucleus accumbens (NAc), but two major questions remain unanswered. Are these adaptations mechanistically coupled? And, given that they can be dissociated from locomotor sensitization, what is their functional significance? We tested the hypothesis that the guanine-nucleotide exchange factor Kalirin-7 (Kal-7) couples cocaine-induced AMPAR and spine upregulation and that these adaptations underlie sensitization of cocaine's incentive-motivational properties-the properties that make it "wanted." Rats received eight daily injections of saline or cocaine. On withdrawal day 14, we found that Kal-7 levels and activation of its downstream effectors Rac-1 and PAK were increased in the NAc of cocaine-sensitized rats. Furthermore, AMPAR surface expression and spine density were increased, as expected. To determine whether these changes require Kal-7, a lentiviral vector expressing Kal-7 shRNA was injected into the NAc core before cocaine exposure. Knocking down Kal-7 abolished the AMPAR and spine upregulation normally seen during cocaine withdrawal. Despite the absence of these adaptations, rats with reduced Kal-7 levels developed locomotor sensitization. However, incentive sensitization, which was assessed by how rapidly rats learned to self-administer a threshold dose of cocaine, was severely impaired. These results identify a signaling pathway coordinating AMPAR and spine upregulation during cocaine withdrawal, demonstrate that locomotor and incentive sensitization involve divergent mechanisms, and link enhanced excitatory transmission in the NAc to incentive sensitization.

 

2012

Silent synapses in selectively activated nucleus accumbens neurons following cocaine sensitization.

Nat Neurosci. 2012 Nov;15(11):1556-62. doi: 10.1038/nn.3232.

Koya E, Cruz FC, Ator R, Golden SA, Hoffman AF, Lupica CR, Hope BT.

Cocaine-induced alterations in synaptic glutamate function in nucleus accumbens are thought to mediate drug-related behaviors such as psychomotor sensitization. However, previous studies have examined global alterations in randomly selected accumbens neurons regardless of their activation state during cocaine-induced behavior. We recently found that a minority of strongly activated Fos-expressing accumbens neurons are necessary for cocaine-induced psychomotor sensitization, whereas the majority of accumbens neurons are less directly involved. We assessed synaptic alterations in these strongly activated accumbens neurons in Fos-GFP mice, which express a fusion protein of Fos and GFP in strongly activated neurons, and compared these alterations with those in surrounding non-activated neurons. Cocaine sensitization produced higher levels of 'silent synapses', which contained functional NMDA receptors and nonfunctional AMPA receptors only in GFP-positive neurons, 6-11 d after sensitization. Thus, distinct synaptic alterations are induced in the most strongly activated accumbens neurons that mediate psychomotor sensitization.

 

HDAC2 regulates atypical antipsychotic responses through the modulation of mGlu2 promoter activity.

Nat Neurosci. 2012 Sep;15(9):1245-54. doi: 10.1038/nn.3181. 

Kurita M, Holloway T, García-Bea A, Kozlenkov A, Friedman AK, Moreno JL, Heshmati M, Golden SA, Kennedy PJ, Takahashi N, Dietz DM, Mocci G, Gabilondo AM, Hanks J, Umali A, Callado LF, Gallitano AL, Neve RL, Shen L, Buxbaum JD, Han MH, Nestler EJ, Meana JJ, Russo SJ, González-Maeso J.

Histone deacetylases (HDACs) compact chromatin structure and repress gene transcription. In schizophrenia, clinical studies demonstrate that HDAC inhibitors are efficacious when given in combination with atypical antipsychotics. However, the molecular mechanism that integrates a better response to antipsychotics with changes in chromatin structure remains unknown. Here we found that chronic atypical antipsychotics downregulated the transcription of metabotropic glutamate 2 receptor (mGlu2, also known as Grm2), an effect that was associated with decreased histone acetylation at its promoter in mouse and human frontal cortex. This epigenetic change occurred in concert with a serotonin 5-HT(2A) receptor-dependent upregulation and increased binding of HDAC2 to the mGlu2 promoter. Virally mediated overexpression of HDAC2 in frontal cortex decreased mGlu2 transcription and its electrophysiological properties, thereby increasing psychosis-like behavior. Conversely, HDAC inhibitors prevented the repressive histone modifications induced at the mGlu2 promoter by atypical antipsychotics, and augmented their therapeutic-like effects. These observations support the view of HDAC2 as a promising new target for schizophrenia treatment.

 

Effects of inhibitor of κB kinase activity in the nucleus accumbens on emotional behavior.

Neuropsychopharmacology. 2012 Nov;37(12):2615-23. doi: 10.1038/npp.2012.121.

Christoffel DJ, Golden SA, Heshmati M, Graham A, Birnbaum S, Neve RL, Hodes GE, Russo SJ.

Inhibitor of κB kinase (IκK) has historically been studied in the context of immune response and inflammation, but recent evidence demonstrates that IκK activity is necessary and sufficient for regulation of neuronal function. Chronic social defeat stress of mice increases IκK activity in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) and this increase is strongly correlated to depression-like behaviors. Inhibition of IκK signaling results in a reversal of chronic social defeat stress-induced social avoidance behavior. Here, we more completely define the role of IκK in anxiety and depressive-like behaviors. Mice underwent stereotaxic microinjection of a herpes simplex virus expressing either green fluorescent protein, a constitutively active form of IκK (IκKca), or a dominant negative form of IκK into the NAc. Of all three experimental groups, only mice expressing IκKca show a behavioral phenotype. Expression of IκKca results in a decrease in the time spent in the non-periphery zones of an open field arena and increased time spent immobile during a forced swim test. No baseline differences in sucrose preference were observed, but following the acute swim stress we noted a marked reduction in sucrose preference. To determine whether IκK activity alters responses to other acute stressors, we examined behavior and spine morphology in mice undergoing an acute social defeat stress. We found that IκKca enhanced social avoidance behavior and promoted thin spine formation. These data show that IκK in NAc is a critical regulator of both depressive- and anxiety-like states and may do so by promoting the formation of immature excitatory synapses.

 

2011

Structural and synaptic plasticity in stress-related disorders.

Rev Neurosci. 2011;22(5):535-49. doi: 10.1515/RNS.2011.044.

Christoffel DJ, Golden SA, Russo SJ.

Stress can have a lasting impact on the structure and function of brain circuitry that results in long-lasting changes in the behavior of an organism. Synaptic plasticity is the mechanism by which information is stored and maintained within individual synapses, neurons, and neuronal circuits to guide the behavior of an organism. Although these mechanisms allow the organism to adapt to its constantly evolving environment, not all of these adaptations are beneficial. Under prolonged bouts of physical or psychological stress, these mechanisms become dysregulated, and the connectivity between brain regions becomes unbalanced, resulting in pathological behaviors. In this review, we highlight the effects of stress on the structure and function of neurons within the mesocorticolimbic brain systems known to regulate mood and motivation. We then discuss the implications of these spine adaptations on neuronal activity and pathological behaviors implicated in mood disorders. Finally, we end by discussing recent brain imaging studies in human depression within the context of these basic findings to provide insight into the underlying mechanisms leading to neural dysfunction in depression.

 

FACS identifies unique cocaine-induced gene regulation in selectively activated adult striatal neurons.

J Neurosci. 2011 Mar 16;31(11):4251-9. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.6195-10.2011.

Guez-Barber D, Fanous S, Golden SA, Schrama R, Koya E, Stern AL, Bossert JM, Harvey BK, Picciotto MR, Hope BT.

Numerous studies with the neural activity marker Fos indicate that cocaine activates only a small proportion of sparsely distributed striatal neurons. Until now, efficient methods were not available to assess neuroadaptations induced specifically within these activated neurons. We used fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) to purify striatal neurons activated during cocaine-induced locomotion in naive and cocaine-sensitized cfos-lacZ transgenic rats. Activated neurons were labeled with an antibody against β-galactosidase, the protein product of the lacZ gene. Cocaine induced a unique gene expression profile selectively in the small proportion of activated neurons that was not observed in the nonactivated majority of neurons. These genes included altered levels of the immediate early genes arc, fosB, and nr4a3, as well as genes involved in p38 MAPK signaling and cell-type specificity. We propose that this FACS method can be used to study molecular neuroadaptations in specific neurons encoding the behavioral effects of abused drugs and other learned behaviors.

 

IκB kinase regulates social defeat stress-induced synaptic and behavioral plasticity.

J Neurosci. 2011 Jan 5;31(1):314-21. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4763-10.2011.

Christoffel DJ, Golden SA, Dumitriu D, Robison AJ, Janssen WG, Ahn HF, Krishnan V, Reyes CM, Han MH, Ables JL, Eisch AJ, Dietz DM, Ferguson D, Neve RL, Greengard P, Kim Y, Morrison JH, Russo SJ.

The neurobiological underpinnings of mood and anxiety disorders have been linked to the nucleus accumbens (NAc), a region important in processing the rewarding and emotional salience of stimuli. Using chronic social defeat stress, an animal model of mood and anxiety disorders, we investigated whether alterations in synaptic plasticity are responsible for the long-lasting behavioral symptoms induced by this form of stress. We hypothesized that chronic social defeat stress alters synaptic strength or connectivity of medium spiny neurons (MSNs) in the NAc to induce social avoidance. To test this, we analyzed the synaptic profile of MSNs via confocal imaging of Lucifer-yellow-filled cells, ultrastructural analysis of the postsynaptic density, and electrophysiological recordings of miniature EPSCs (mEPSCs) in mice after social defeat. We found that NAc MSNs have more stubby spine structures with smaller postsynaptic densities and an increase in the frequency of mEPSCs after social defeat. In parallel to these structural changes, we observed significant increases in IκB kinase (IKK) in the NAc after social defeat, a molecular pathway that has been shown to regulate neuronal morphology. Indeed, we find using viral-mediated gene transfer of dominant-negative and constitutively active IKK mutants that activation of IKK signaling pathways during social defeat is both necessary and sufficient to induce synaptic alterations and behavioral effects of the stress. These studies establish a causal role for IKK in regulating stress-induced adaptive plasticity and may present a novel target for drug development in the treatment of mood and anxiety disorders in humans.

 

2009

Context-specific modulation of cocaine-induced locomotor sensitization and ERK and CREB phosphorylation in the rat nucleus accumbens.

Eur J Neurosci. 2009 Nov;30(10):1931-40. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2009.06982.x.

Marin MT, Berkow A, Golden SA, Koya E, Planeta CS, Hope BT.

Learned associations are hypothesized to develop between drug effects and contextual stimuli during repeated drug administration to produce context-specific sensitization that is expressed only in the drug-associated environment and not in a non-drug-paired environment. The neuroadaptations that mediate such context-specific behavior are largely unknown. We investigated context-specific modulation of cAMP-response element-binding protein (CREB) phosphorylation and that of four upstream kinases in the nucleus accumbens that phosphorylate CREB, including extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), cAMP-dependent protein kinase, calcium/calmodulin-dependent kinase (CaMK) II and CaMKIV. Rats received seven once-daily injections of cocaine or saline in one of two distinct environments outside their home cages. Seven days later, test injections of cocaine or saline were administered in either the paired or the non-paired environment. CREB and ERK phosphorylation were assessed with immunohistochemistry, and phosphorylation of the remaining kinases, as well as of CREB and ERK, was assessed by western blotting. Repeated cocaine administration produced context-specific sensitized locomotor responses accompanied by context-specific enhancement of the number of cocaine-induced phosphoCREB-immunoreactive and phosphoERK-immunoreactive nuclei in a minority of neurons. In contrast, CREB and CaMKIV phosphorylation in nucleus accumbens homogenates were decreased by cocaine test injections. We have recently shown that a small number of cocaine-activated accumbens neurons mediate the learned association between cocaine effects and the drug administration environment to produce context-specific sensitization. Context-specific phosphorylation of ERK and CREB in the present study suggests that this signal transduction pathway is selectively activated in the same set of cocaine-activated accumbens neurons that mediate this learned association.

 

Targeted disruption of cocaine-activated nucleus accumbens neurons prevents context-specific sensitization.

Nat Neurosci. 2009 Aug;12(8):1069-73. doi: 10.1038/nn.2364. Epub 2009 Jul 20.

Koya E, Golden SA, Harvey BK, Guez-Barber DH, Berkow A, Simmons DE, Bossert JM, Nair SG, Uejima JL, Marin MT, Mitchell TB, Farquhar D, Ghosh SC, Mattson BJ, Hope BT.

Learned associations between effects of abused drugs and the drug administration environment are important in drug addiction. Histochemical and electrophysiological studies suggest that these associations are encoded in sparsely distributed nucleus accumbens neurons that are selectively activated by drugs and drug-associated cues. Although correlations have been observed between nucleus accumbens neuronal activity and responsivity to drugs and drug cues, no technique exists for selectively manipulating these activated neurons and establishing their causal role in behavioral effects of drugs and drug cues. Here we describe a new approach, which we term the 'Daun02 inactivation method', that selectively inactivates a minority of neurons previously activated by cocaine in an environment repeatedly paired with cocaine to demonstrate a causal role for these activated neurons in context-specific cocaine-induced psychomotor sensitization in rats. This method provides a new tool for studying the causal roles of selectively activated neurons in behavioral effects of drugs and drug cues and in other learned behaviors.

 

Long-lasting incubation of conditioned fear in rats.

Biol Psychiatry. 2009 May 15;65(10):881-6. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2008.12.010.

Pickens CL, Golden SA, Adams-Deutsch T, Nair SG, Shaham Y.

Learned associations between effects of abused drugs and the drug administration environment are important in drug addiction. Histochemical and electrophysiological studies suggest that these associations are encoded in sparsely distributed nucleus accumbens neurons that are selectively activated by drugs and drug-associated cues. Although correlations have been observed between nucleus accumbens neuronal activity and responsivity to drugs and drug cues, no technique exists for selectively manipulating these activated neurons and establishing their causal role in behavioral effects of drugs and drug cues. Here we describe a new approach, which we term the 'Daun02 inactivation method', that selectively inactivates a minority of neurons previously activated by cocaine in an environment repeatedly paired with cocaine to demonstrate a causal role for these activated neurons in context-specific cocaine-induced psychomotor sensitization in rats. This method provides a new tool for studying the causal roles of selectively activated neurons in behavioral effects of drugs and drug cues and in other learned behaviors.

 

2008

Differential effects of the hypocretin 1 receptor antagonist SB 334867 on high-fat food self-administration and reinstatement of food seeking in rats.

Br J Pharmacol. 2008 May;154(2):406-16. doi: 10.1038/bjp.2008.3. 

Nair SG, Golden SA, Shaham Y.

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE:  Many studies have demonstrated a role of hypocretin 1 (orexin 1) receptors in home-cage food consumption in rodents. However, the role of these receptors in operant food self-administration or relapse to food seeking in animal models is unknown. EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH:  In Experiment 1, we trained food-restricted rats (16-20 g per day) to lever press for high-fat (35%) pellets (3-6 h per day, every other day). We then tested the effect of the hypocretin 1 receptor antagonist SB 334867 (10, 20 mg kg(-1), i.p) on pellet self-administration. In Experiment 2, we trained rats to self-administer the food pellets, and following extinction of the food-reinforced responding, we tested the effect of hypocretin 1 (3 and 6 mug, i.c.v) on reinstatement of food-seeking and the effect of SB 334867 on this reinstatement. In Experiment 3, we tested the effect of SB 334867 on reinstatement induced by non-contingent pellet exposure (pellet-priming) or the pharmacological stressor yohimbine (2 mg kg(-1), i.p). KEY RESULTS: SB 334867 attenuated high-fat pellet self-administration. In contrast, SB 334867 had no effect on reinstatement of lever presses induced by hypocretin 1, pellet-priming or yohimbine. CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: These data indicate that during dieting, hypocretin 1 receptors contribute to operant high-fat pellet self-administration, but not to relapse to food seeking induced by acute re-exposure to the food itself or by the induction of a stress-like state.

 

2007

Peptide YY3-36 decreases reinstatement of high-fat food seeking during dieting in a rat relapse model.

J Neurosci. 2007 Oct 24;27(43):11522-32.

Ghitza UE, Nair SG, Golden SA, Gray SM, Uejima JL, Bossert JM, Shaham Y.

A major problem in treating obesity is high rates of relapse to maladaptive food-taking habits during dieting. This relapse is often provoked by acute re-exposure to palatable food, food-associated cues, or stress. We used a reinstatement model, commonly used to study relapse to abused drugs, to explore the effect of peptide YY3-36 (PYY3-36) on reinstatement of high-fat (35%, 45 mg pellets) food seeking induced by acute exposure to the pellets (pellet priming), a cue previously associated with pellet delivery (pellet cue), or yohimbine (2 mg/kg, a pharmacological stressor). Rats were placed on a restricted diet (16 g of chow per day) and lever-pressed for the pellets for 9-12 sessions (6 h/d, every 48 h); pellet delivery was paired with a tone-light cue. They were then given 10-20 extinction sessions wherein lever presses were not reinforced with the pellets and subsequently tested for reinstatement of food seeking. Systemic PYY3-36 injections (100-200 microg/kg) decreased pellet priming- and pellet cue-induced reinstatement of food seeking but not yohimbine-induced reinstatement. Arcuate nucleus (Arc) injections of PYY3-36 (0.4 microg per side) decreased pellet priming-induced reinstatement. The attenuation of pellet priming-induced reinstatement by systemic PYY3-36 was reversed by systemic (2 mg/kg) but not Arc (0.5 microg per side) injections of the Y2 receptor antagonist BIIE0246. Arc PYY3-36 injections did not decrease pellet cue-induced reinstatement. Finally, systemic PYY3-36 injections had minimal effects on ongoing food self-administration or heroin priming- or heroin cue-induced reinstatement of heroin seeking. These data identify an effect of systemic PYY3-36 on relapse to food seeking that is independent of Y2 receptor activation in Arc and suggest that PYY3-36 should be considered for the treatment of relapse to maladaptive food-taking habits during dieting.