Table_2_The Duration of Stress Determines Sex Specificities in the Vulnerability to Depression and in the Morphologic Remodeling of Neurons and Microg.pdf (122.87 kB)
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Table_2_The Duration of Stress Determines Sex Specificities in the Vulnerability to Depression and in the Morphologic Remodeling of Neurons and Microglia.pdf

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posted on 07.03.2022, 05:01 by Rita Gaspar, Carina Soares-Cunha, Ana Verónica Domingues, Bárbara Coimbra, Filipa I. Baptista, Luísa Pinto, António F. Ambrósio, Ana João Rodrigues, Catarina A. Gomes

Stress exposure has been shown to induce a variety of molecular and functional alterations associated with anxiety and depression. Some studies suggest that microglia, the immune cells of the brain, play a significant role in determining neuronal and behavioral responses to chronic stress and also contribute to the development of stress-related psychopathologies. However, little is known about the impact of the duration of stress exposure upon microglia and neurons morphology, particularly considering sex differences. This issue deserves particular investigation, considering that the process of morphologic remodeling of neurons and microglia is usually accompanied by functional changes with behavioral expression. Here, we examine the effects of short and long unpredictable chronic mild stress (uCMS) protocols on behavior, evaluating in parallel microglia and neurons morphology in the dorsal hippocampus (dHIP) and in the nucleus accumbens (NAc), two brain regions involved in the etiology of depression. We report that long-term uCMS induced more behavioral alterations in males, which present anxiety and depression-like phenotypes (anhedonia and helplessness behavior), while females only display anxiety-like behavior. After short-term uCMS, both sexes presented anxiety-like behavior. Microglia cells undergo a process of morphologic adaptation to short-term uCMS, dependent on sex, in the NAc: we observed a hypertrophy in males and an atrophy in females, transient effects that do not persist after long-term uCMS. In the dHIP, the morphologic adaptation of microglia is only observed in females (hypertrophy) and after the protocol of long uCMS. Interestingly, males are more vulnerable to neuronal morphological alterations in a region-specific manner: dendritic atrophy in granule neurons of the dHIP and hypertrophy in the medium spiny neurons of the NAc, both after short- or long-term uCMS. The morphology of neurons in these brain regions were not affected in females. These findings raise the possibility that, by differentially affecting neurons and microglia in dHIP and NAc, chronic stress may contribute for differences in the clinical presentation of stress-related disorders under the control of sex-specific mechanisms.

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