Brain and behavior 2017 10 237(10) e00861 doi 10.1002/brb3.861
The selective breeding of Roman High- (RHA) and Low-Avoidance (RLA) rats for, respectively, rapid versus poor acquisition of the active avoidance response has generated two distinct phenotypes differing in many behavioral traits, including coping strategies to aversive conditions. Thus, RLA rats are considered as a genetic model of vulnerability to stress-induced depression whereas RHA rats are a model of resilience to that trait. Besides the monoamine hypothesis of depression, there is evidence that alterations in neuronal plasticity in the hippocampus and other brain areas are critically involved in the pathophysiology of mood disorders.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Western blot (WB) and immunohistochemistry were used to investigate the basal immunochemical occurrence of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and its high-affinity tyrosine-kinase receptor trkB in the dorsal and ventral hippocampus of adult RHA and RLA rats.
WB analysis indicated that the optical density of BDNF- and trkB-positive bands in the dorsal hippocampus is, respectively, 48% and 25% lower in RLA versus RHA rats. Densitometric analysis of BDNF- and trkB-like immunoreactivity (LI) in brain sections showed that BDNF-LI is 24% to 34% lower in the different sectors of the Ammon’s horn of RLA versus RHA rats, whereas line-related differences are observed in the dentate gyrus (DG) only in the ventral hippocampus. As for trkB-LI, significant differences are observed only in the dorsal hippocampus, where density is 23% lower in the DG of RLA versus RHA rats, while no differences across lines occur in the Ammon’s horn.
These findings support the hypothesis that a reduced BDNF/trkB signaling in the hippocampus of RLA versus RHA rats may contribute to their more pronounced vulnerability to stress-induced depression.