Sex-specific impairment and recovery of spatial learning following the end of chronic unpredictable restraint stress: Potential relevance of limbic GAD

J. Bryce Ortiz, Sara B. Taylor, Ann N. Hoffman, Alyssa N. Campbell, Louis R. Lucas, Cheryl Conrad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

23 Scopus citations

Abstract

Chronic restraint stress alters hippocampal-dependent spatial learning and memory in a sex-dependent manner, impairing spatial performance in male rats and leaving intact or facilitating performance in female rats. Moreover, these stress-induced spatial memory deficits improve following post-stress recovery in males. The current study examined whether restraint administered in an unpredictable manner would eliminate these sex differences and impact a post-stress period on spatial ability and limbic glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD65) expression. Male (n=30) and female (n=30) adult Sprague-Dawley rats were assigned to non-stressed control (Con), chronic stress (Str-Imm), or chronic stress given a post-stress recovery period (Str-Rec). Stressed rats were unpredictably restrained for 21 days using daily non-repeated combinations of physical context, duration, and time of day. Then, all rats were tested on the radial arm water maze (RAWM) for 2 days and given one retention trial on the third day, with brains removed 30min later to assess GAD65 mRNA. In Str-Imm males, deficits occurred on day 1 of RAWM acquisition, an impairment that was not evident in the Str-Rec group. In contrast, females did not show significant outcomes following chronic stress or post-stress recovery. In males, amygdalar GAD65 expression negatively correlated with RAWM performance on day 1. In females, hippocampal CA1 GAD65 positively correlated with RAWM performance on day 1. These results demonstrate that GABAergic function may contribute to the sex differences observed following chronic stress. Furthermore, unpredictable restraint and a recovery period failed to eliminate the sex differences on spatial learning and memory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)176-184
Number of pages9
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Volume282
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015

Keywords

  • Amygdala
  • Chronic stress
  • GABA
  • Hippocampus
  • Recovery
  • Sex differences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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