Author(s): Shumake J, ConejoJimenez N, GonzalezPardo H, GonzalezLima F
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Abstract Inborn brain differences in metabolic capacity were mapped in congenitally helpless rats, a genetically selected strain predisposed to show helpless and depressive behavior. There are a number of brain regions showing abnormal metabolism in adult congenitally helpless rats. Some of these alterations may be innate while others may be due to environmental factors, such as maternal care and postnatal stress. To identify which brain structures show innate differences, brains of newborn rats from congenitally helpless and non-helpless strains were compared using cytochrome oxidase histochemistry, an endogenous marker of regional metabolic capacity. A smaller subset of regions affected in adults showed significantly less metabolic activity in the newborn brains, including paraventricular hypothalamus, habenula, hippocampus, subiculum, lateral septal nucleus, anterior cingulate cortex, infralimbic cortex, and medial orbitofrontal cortex. A covariance analysis further revealed a striking reduction of functional connectivity in the congenitally helpless brain, including a complete decoupling of limbic forebrain regions from midbrain/diencephalic regions. This pattern of brain metabolism suggests that helplessness vulnerability is linked to altered functioning of limbic networks that are key to controlling the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. This implies that vulnerable animals have innate deficits in brain systems that would normally allow them to cope with stress, predisposing them in this manner to more readily develop helpless and depressive behaviors.
This article was published in Brain Res
and referenced in Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy