Apathy is frequently observed in numerous neurological disorders, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, as well as neuropsychiatric disorders including schizophrenia. Apathy is defined as a lack of motivation characterized by diminished goal-oriented behavior and self-initiated activity. This study evaluated a chronic restraint stress (CRS) protocol in modeling apathetic behavior, and determined whether administration of an anticholinesterase had utility in attenuating CRS-induced phenotypes.
We assessed behavior as well as regional neuronal activity patterns using FosB immunohistochemistry after exposure to CRS for 6 h/d for a minimum of 21 d. Based on our FosB findings and recent clinical trials, we administered an anticholinesterase to evaluate attenuation of CRS-induced phenotypes.
CRS resulted in behaviors that reflect motivational loss and diminished emotional responsiveness. CRS-exposed mice showed differences in FosB accumulation, including changes in the cholinergic basal forebrain system. Facilitating cholinergic signaling ameliorated CRS-induced deficits in initiation and motivational drive and rescued immediate early gene activation in the medial septum and nucleus accumbens.
Some CRS protocols may be useful for studying deficits in motivation and apathetic behavior. Amelioration of CRS-induced behaviors with an anticholinesterase supports a role for the cholinergic system in remediation of deficits in motivational drive.
Keywords: Apathy, Motivation, Chronic stress, Cholinergic, FosB, c-fos, Nucleus accumbens, Basal forebrain