Stress plays an important role in psychiatric disorders, and preclinical evidence indicates that the central endocannabinoid system modulates endocrine and neuronal responses to stress. This study aimed to investigate the effect of acute stress on circulating concentrations of endocannabinoids (eCBs) in healthy humans. A total of 71 adults participated in two sessions in which they were exposed to either a standardized psychosocial stress procedure (Trier Social Stress Test) or a control task. Blood samples for eCB and cortisol assays and cardiovascular and subjective measures were obtained before and at regular intervals after the tasks. Serum concentrations of the eCBs, N-arachidonylethanolamine (anandamide, AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), as well as of the N-acylethanolamides (NAEs), N-palmitoylethanolamine (PEA) and N-oleoylethanolamine (OEA), and of the O-acylglycerol, 2-oleoylglycerol (2-OG), were determined. Compared with the control condition, stress increased serum concentrations of AEA and the other NAEs immediately after the stress period. Increases in PEA were positively correlated with increases in serum cortisol after stress. Furthermore, anxiety ratings at baseline were negatively correlated with baseline concentrations of AEA. The sex and menstrual cycle status of the subject affected the NAE responses to stress. Interestingly, subjects of Asian and African-American races exhibited different patterns of stress responses compared with the Caucasian subjects. These results indicate that stress increases circulating NAEs in healthy human volunteers. This finding supports a protective role for eCBs in anxiety. Further research is needed to elucidate the function of these lipid mediators, and to determine the mechanisms that regulate their appearance in the circulation.
endocannabinoid; anxiety; cortisol; stress; 2-arachidonoylglycerol; N-arachidonylethanolamine; cannabinoids; endocannabinoids; mood/anxiety/stress disorders; neuroendocrinology; psychiatry & behavioral sciences
The medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) is a key brain area in depressive symptomatology; specifically, glutamate (Glu) has been reported to play a significant role in major depression (MD) in this area. MPFC Glu levels are sensitive to ovarian hormone fluctuations and pregnancy and the postpartum period are associated with the most substantial physiological alterations of female hormones. It is therefore logical to measure MPFC Glu levels in women with postpartum depression (PPD). Using in vivo magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) at a field strength of 3 T, we acquired single-voxel spectra from the MPFC of 12 women with PPD and 12 healthy controls (HCs) matched for postpartum scan timing. Water-referenced MPFC Glu levels were measured using a MRS technique that allowed us to be specific for Glu with very little glutamine contamination. The concentrations of other water-quantified brain metabolites such as glycerophosphorylcholine plus phosphorylcholine, N-acetylaspartate (NAA), and creatine plus phosphocreatine were measured in the same MR spectra. MPFC Glu levels were higher in women with PPD (7.21±1.20) compared to matched HCs (6.04±1.21). There were no differences between groups for other brain metabolites measured. These findings suggest an association between Glu dysregulation in the MPFC and PPD. Whether the pathophysiology of PPD differs from the pathophysiology of MD remains to be determined. Further investigations are needed to determine the chronological associations between the occurrence of symptoms of PPD and the onset of changes in MPFC Glu levels.
glutamate; postpartum; depression; magnetic resonance spectroscopy; medial prefrontal cortex; women; depression; unipolar/bipolar; glutamate; imaging; clinical or preclinical; magnetic resonance spectroscopy; medial prefrontal cortex; mood/anxiety/stress disorders; postpartum; women
Major depression is associated with both dysregulated glutamatergic neurotransmission and fewer astrocytes in limbic areas including the prefrontal cortex (PFC). These deficits may be functionally related. Notably, astrocytes regulate glutamate levels by removing glutamate from the synapse via the glutamate transporter (GLT-1). Previously, we demonstrated that central blockade of GLT-1 induces anhedonia and c-Fos expression in the PFC. Given the role of the PFC in regulating mood, we hypothesized that GLT-1 blockade in the PFC alone would be sufficient to induce anhedonia in rats. We microinjected the GLT-1 inhibitor, dihydrokainic acid (DHK), into the PFC and examined the effects on mood using intracranial self-stimulation (ICSS). At lower doses, intra-PFC DHK produced modest increases in ICSS thresholds, reflecting a depressive-like effect. At higher doses, intra-PFC DHK resulted in cessation of responding. We conducted further tests to clarify whether this total cessation of responding was related to an anhedonic state (tested by sucrose intake), a nonspecific result of motor impairment (measured by the tape test), or seizure activity (measured with electroencephalogram (EEG)). The highest dose of DHK increased latency to begin drinking without altering total sucrose intake. Furthermore, neither motor impairment nor evidence of seizure activity was observed in the tape test or EEG recordings. A decrease in reward value followed by complete cessation of ICSS responding suggests an anhedonic-like effect of intra-PFC DHK; a conclusion that was substantiated by an increased latency to begin sucrose drinking. Overall, these results suggest that blockade of astrocytic glutamate uptake in the PFC is sufficient to produce anhedonia, a core symptom of depression.
astrocytes; glutamate; dihydrokainic acid; prefrontal cortex; anhedonia; GLT-1; anhedonia; astrocytes; depression; unipolar/bipolar; dihydrokainic acid; GLT-1; glutamate; mood/anxiety/stress disorders; prefrontal cortex; transporters
Cognitive deficits represent a core symptom cluster in schizophrenia that are thought to reflect developmental dysregulations within a neural system involving the ventral hippocampus (VH), nucleus accumbens (NAC), and prefrontal cortex (PFC). The present experiments determined the cognitive effects of transiently inactivating VH in rats during a sensitive period of development. Neonatal (postnatal day 7, PD7) and adolescent (PD32) male rats received a single bilateral infusion of saline or tetrodotoxin (TTX) within the VH to transiently inactivate local circuitry and efferent outflow. Rats were tested as adults on an attentional set-shifting task. Performance in this task depends upon the integrity of the PFC and NAC. TTX infusions did not affect the initial acquisition or ability to learn an intra-dimensional shift. However, TTX rats required a greater number of trials than did controls to acquire the first reversal and extra-dimensional shift (ED) stages. These impairments were age and region-specific as rats infused with TTX into the VH at PD32, or into the dorsal hippocampus at PD7, exhibited performance in the task similar to that of controls. Finally, acute systemic administration of the partial α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) agonist SSR 180711 (3.0 mg/kg) eliminated the TTX-induced performance deficits. Given that patients with schizophrenia exhibit hippocampal pathophysiology and deficits in the ED stages of set-shifting tasks, our results support the significance of transient hippocampal inactivation as an animal model for studying the cognitive impairments in schizophrenia as well as the pro-cognitive therapeutic potential of α7 nAChR agonists.
attentional set-shifting; schizophrenia; tetrodotoxin; ventral hippocampus; prefrontal cortex; alpha7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors.; acetylcholine; animal models; cognition; cognitive flexibility; development; hippocampus; prefrontal cortex; schizophrenia; antipsychotics
Increased sympathetic activity has been hypothesized to have a role in the elevated somatic disease risk in persons with depressive or anxiety disorders. However, it remains unclear whether increased sympathetic activity reflects a direct effect of anxiety or depression or an indirect effect of antidepressant medication. The aim of this study was to test longitudinally whether cardiac sympathetic control, measured by pre-ejection period (PEP), was increased by depression/anxiety status and by antidepressant use. Cross-sectional and longitudinal data were from a depression and anxiety cohort: the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety (NESDA). Baseline data of 2838 NESDA subjects (mean age 41.7 years, 66.7% female) and 2-year follow-up data of 2226 subjects were available for analyses. Included were subjects with and without depressive/anxiety disorders, using or not using different antidepressants at baseline or follow-up. The PEP was measured non-invasively by 1.5 h of ambulatory impedance cardiography. Cross-sectional analyses compared PEP across psychopathology and antidepressant groups. Longitudinal analyses compared 2-year changes in PEP in relation to changes in psychopathology and antidepressant use. Cross-sectional analyses showed that antidepressant-naïve depressive/anxious subjects had comparable PEP as controls, whereas subjects using tricyclic (TCA) or combined serotonergic/noradrenergic antidepressants (SNRI) had significantly shorter PEP compared with controls. In contrast, subjects using selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) had longer PEP than controls. Longitudinal results confirmed these findings: compared with 2-year change in PEP in continuous non-users (+2 ms), subjects who started TCA or SNRI treatment showed significantly shortened PEP (−11 ms, p=0.005 and p<0.001), whereas subjects who started SSRI treatment showed significant prolongation of PEP (+9 ms, p=0.002). Reversed findings were observed among those who stopped antidepressant use. These findings suggest that depressive and anxiety disorders are not associated with increased cardiac sympathetic control. However, results pose that TCA and SNRI use increases sympathetic control, whereas SSRI use decreases sympathetic control.
sympathetic nervous system; major depressive disorder; pre-ejection period; antidepressants; anxiety disorder; biological psychiatry; epidemiology; depression; unipolar/bipolar; psychopharmacology; antidepressants; autonomic nervous system; cardiac sympathetic effects
Repeated intermittent exposure to amphetamine (AMPH) results in the development of persistent behavioral and neurological changes. When drug exposure is paired with a specific environment, contextual cues can control conditioned responses, context-specific sensitization, and alterations in dendritic morphology in the nucleus accumbens (NAc). Intact N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) glutamate receptor signaling is thought to be required for associative learning. The acquisition of context-specific behavioral sensitization to AMPH and extinction of conditioned hyperactivity have been investigated in two genetically modified mouse strains: the serine racemase homozygous knockout (SR−/−) and glycine transporter 1 heterozygous mutant (GlyT1−/+). These strains have reciprocally altered NMDA receptor co-agonists, D-serine and glycine, levels that result in decreased (SR−/−) or increased (GlyT1−/+) NMDA receptor signaling. AMPH-induced changes in dendritic morphology in the NAc were also examined. SR−/− mice showed reduced expression of context-specific sensitization and conditioned hyperactivity. However, the conditioned hyperactivity in these mice is completely resistant to extinction. Extinction reversed AMPH-induced increased in NAc spine density in wild-type but not SR−/− mice. GlyT1 −/+ mice showed a more rapid acquisition of sensitization, but no alteration in the extinction of conditioned hyperactivity. The SR−/− data demonstrate that a genetic model of NMDA receptor hypofunction displays a reduced ability to extinguish conditioned responses to drug-associated stimuli. Findings also demonstrate that the morphological changes in the NAc encode conditioned responses that are sensitive to extinction and reduced NMDA receptor activity. NMDA receptor hypofunction may contribute to the comorbidity of substance abuse in schizophrenia.
NMDA receptor; D-serine; glycine; addiction; behavioral sensitization; extinction; addiction & substance abuse; behavioral sensitization; D-serine; extinction; glutamate; glycine; NMDA receptor; psychiatry & behavioral sciences; psychostimulants
Many patients with schizophrenia show a limited symptomatic response to treatment with dopaminergic antipsychotics. This may reflect the additional involvement of non-dopaminergic neurochemical dysfunction in the pathophysiology of the disorder. We tested the hypothesis that brain glutamate levels would differ between patients with first-episode psychosis who were symptomatic compared with those with minimal symptoms following antipsychotic treatment. Proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS) spectra were acquired at 3 Tesla in the anterior cingulate cortex and left thalamus in 15 patients with first-episode psychosis in symptomatic remission, and 17 patients with first-episode psychosis who were still symptomatic following at least one course of antipsychotic treatment. Metabolite levels were estimated in ratio to creatine (Cr) using LCModel. Levels of glutamate/Cr in the anterior cingulate cortex were significantly higher in patients who were still symptomatic than in those in remission (T(30)=3.02; P=0.005). Across the entire sample, higher levels of glutamate/Cr in the anterior cingulate cortex were associated with a greater severity of negative symptoms (r=0.42; P=0.017) and a lower level of global functioning (r=−0.47; P=0.007). These findings suggest that clinical status following antipsychotic treatment in schizophrenia is linked to glutamate dysfunction. Treatment with compounds acting on the glutamatergic system might therefore be beneficial in patients who respond poorly to dopaminergic antipsychotics.
psychosis; magnetic resonance spectroscopy; glutamate; treatment response; anterior cingulate cortex; thalamus; glutamate, schizophrenia/antipsychotics, imaging, clinical or preclinical, biological psychiatry, psychosis, anterior cingulate cortex, thalamus, magnetic resonance spectroscopy, treatment response
Prepulse inhibition (PPI) deficits are among the most reproducible phenotypic markers found in schizophrenic patients. We recently reported that nisoxetine, a selective norepinephrine transporter (NET) inhibitor, reversed the PPI deficits that have been identified in dopamine transporter (DAT) knockout (KO) mice. However, the mechanisms underlying nisoxetine-induced PPI recovery in DAT KO mice were unclear in previous experiments. To clarify these mechanisms, PPI was tested after microinjections of nisoxetine into the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFc) or nucleus accumbens (NAc) in wildtype (WT) and DAT KO mice. c-Fos immunohistochemistry provided an indicator of neural activation. Multiple-fluorescent-labeling procedures and the retrograde tracer fluorogold were employed to identify nisoxetine-activated neurons and circuits. Systemic nisoxetine activated the mPFc, the NAc shell, the basolateral amygdala, and the subiculum. Infusions of nisoxetine into the mPFc reversed PPI deficits in DAT KO mice, but produced no changes in WT mice, while infusion of nisoxetine into the NAc had no effect on PPI in both WT and DAT KO mice. Experiments using multiple-fluorescent labeling/fluorogold revealed that nisoxetine activates presumed glutamatergic pyramidal cells that project from the mPFc to the NAc. Activated glutamatergic projections from the mPFc to the NAc appear to have substantial roles in the ability of a NET inhibitor to normalize PPI deficits in DAT KO. Thus, this data suggest that selective NET inhibitors such as nisoxetine might improve information processing deficits in schizophrenia via regulation of cortico-subcortical neuromodulation.
prepulse inhibition; norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor; medial prefrontal cortex; neural circuits; mouse; animal models; behavioral science; catecholamines; medial prefrontal cortex; mouse; neural circuits; neuropharmacology; norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor; prepulse inhibition
Benzodiazepines such as diazepam are widely prescribed as anxiolytics and sleep aids. Continued use of benzodiazepines, however, can lead to addiction in vulnerable individuals. Here, we investigate the neural mechanisms of the behavioral effects of benzodiazepines using the intracranial self-stimulation (ICSS) test, a procedure with which the reward-enhancing effects of these drugs can be measured. Benzodiazepines bind nonselectively to several different GABAA receptor subtypes. To elucidate the α subunit(s) responsible for the reward-enhancing effects of benzodiazepines, we examined mice carrying a histidine-to-arginine point mutation in the α1, α2, or α3 subunit, which renders the targeted subunit nonresponsive to diazepam, other benzodiazepines and zolpidem. In wild-type and α1-point-mutated mice, diazepam caused a dose-dependent reduction in ICSS thresholds (reflecting a reward-enhancing effect) that is comparable to the reduction observed following cocaine administration. This effect was abolished in α2- and α3-point-mutant mice, suggesting that these subunits are necessary for the reward-enhancing action of diazepam. α2 Subunits appear to be particularly important, since diazepam increased ICSS thresholds (reflecting an aversive-like effect) in α2-point-mutant animals. Zolpidem, an α1-preferring benzodiazepine-site agonist, had no reward-enhancing effects in any genotype. Our findings implicate α2 and α3 subunit containing GABAA receptors as key mediators of the reward-related effects of benzodiazepines. This finding has important implications for the development of new medications that retain the therapeutic effects of benzodiazepines but lack abuse liability.
GABAA receptor; α subunit; benzodiazepine; intracranial self-stimulation; zolpidem; point mutation; a subunit; Addiction & Substance Abuse; benzodiazepine; GABA; GABAA receptor; intracranial self-stimulation; Neuropharmacology; Receptor Pharmacology; zolpidem
Prenatal maternal psychopathology affects child development, but some children seem more vulnerable than others. Genetic variance in hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis genes may influence the effect of prenatal maternal psychological symptoms on child emotional and behavioral problems. This hypothesis was tested in the Generation R Study, a population-based cohort from fetal life onward. In total, 1727 children of Northern European descent and their mothers participated in this study and were genotyped for variants in the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) gene (rs6189/rs6190, rs10052957, rs41423247, rs6195, and rs6198) and the FK506-binding protein 5 (FKBP5) gene (rs1360780). Prenatal maternal psychological symptoms were assessed at 20 weeks pregnancy and child behavior was assessed by both parents at 3 years. In a subsample of 331 children, data about cortisol reactivity were available. Based on power calculations, only those genetic variants with sufficient minor allele frequencies (rs41423247, rs10052957, and rs1360780) were included in the interaction analyses. We found that variation in GR at rs41423247 moderates the effect of prenatal maternal psychological symptoms on child emotional and behavioral problems (beta 0.41, SE 0.16, p=0.009). This prenatal interaction effect was independent of mother's genotype and maternal postnatal psychopathology, and not found for prenatal psychological symptoms of the father. Moreover, the interaction between rs41423247 and prenatal psychological symptoms was also associated with decreased child cortisol reactivity (beta −2.30, p-value 0.05). These findings emphasize the potential effect of prenatal gene–environment interaction, and give insight in possible mechanisms accounting for children's individual vulnerability to develop emotional and behavioral problems.
glucocorticoid receptor gene; prenatal psychological symptom; gene–environment interaction; cortisol reactivity; child emotional and behavioral problem; biological psychiatry; child emotional and behavioral problems; cortisol reactivity; epidemiology; gene–environment interaction; glucocorticoid receptor gene; neuroendocrinology; prenatal psychological symptoms; psychiatry and behavioral sciences
Bipolar disorder is associated with very high rates of substance dependence. Cocaine use is particularly common. However, limited data are available on the treatment of this population. A 10-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of lamotrigine was conducted in 120 outpatients with bipolar disorder, depressed or mixed mood state, and cocaine dependence. Other substance use was not exclusionary. Cocaine use was quantified weekly by urine drug screens and participant report using the timeline follow-back method. Mood was assessed with the Hamilton rating scale for depression, quick inventory of depressive symptomatology self-report, and young mania rating scale. Cocaine craving was assessed with the cocaine-craving questionnaire. Data were analyzed using a random regression analysis that used all available data from participants with at least one postbaseline assessment (n=112). Lamotrigine and placebo groups were similar demographically (age 45.1±7.3 vs 43.5±10.0 years, 41.8% vs 38.6% women). Urine drug screens (primary outcome measure) and mood symptoms were not significantly different between groups. However, dollars spent on cocaine showed a significant initial (baseline to week 1, p=0.01) and by-week (weeks 1–10, p=0.05) decrease in dollars spent on cocaine, favoring lamotrigine. Few positive trials of medications for cocaine use, other than stimulant replacement, have been reported, and none have been reported for bipolar disorder. Reduction in amount of cocaine use by self-report with lamotrigine suggests that a standard treatment for bipolar disorder may reduce cocaine use. A study limitation was weekly assessment of urine drug screens that decreased the ability to detect between-group differences.
lamotrigine; bipolar disorder; cocaine dependence; clinical trial; addiction & substance abuse; bipolar disorder; clinical pharmacology/clinical trials; clinical trial; cocaine dependence; depression; unipolar/bipolar; lamotrigine; psychopharmacology
Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), through its action on cannabinoid type-1 receptor (CB1R), is known to activate dopamine (DA) neurotransmission. Functional evidence of a direct antagonistic interaction between CB1R and DA D2-receptors (D2R) suggests that D2R may be an important target for the modulation of DA neurotransmission by THC. The current study evaluated, in rodents, the effects of chronic exposure to THC (1 mg/kg/day; 21 days) on D2R and D3R availabilities using the D2R-prefering antagonist and the D3R-preferring agonist radiotracers [18F]fallypride and [3H]-(+)-PHNO, respectively. At 24 h after the last THC dose, D2R and D3R densities were significantly increased in midbrain. In caudate/putamen (CPu), THC exposure was associated with increased densities of D2R with no change in D2R mRNA expression, whereas in nucleus accumbens (NAcc) both D3R binding and mRNA levels were upregulated. These receptor changes, which were completely reversed in CPu but only partially reversed in NAcc and midbrain at 1 week after THC cessation, correlated with an increased functionality of D2/3R in vivo, based on findings of increased locomotor suppressive effect of a presynaptic dose and enhanced locomotor activation produced by a postsynaptic dose of quinpirole. Concomitantly, the observations of a decreased gene expression of tyrosine hydroxylase in midbrain together with a blunted psychomotor response to amphetamine concurred to indicate a diminished presynaptic DA function following THC. These findings indicate that the early period following THC treatment cessation is associated with altered presynaptic D2/3R controlling DA synthesis and release in midbrain, with the concurrent development of postsynaptic D2/3R supersensitivity in NAcc and CPu. Such D2/3R neuroadaptations may contribute to the reinforcing and habit-forming properties of THC.
Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol; CB1 receptors; dopamine; D2 receptors; D3 receptors; addiction; addiction & substance abuse; behavior; cannabinoids; D2/3 receptor; dopamine; imaging; clinical or preclinical
Heavy cannabis users display smaller amygdalae and hippocampi than controls, and genetic variation accounts for a large proportion of variance in liability to cannabis dependence (CD). A single nucleotide polymorphism in the cannabis receptor-1 gene (CNR1), rs2023239, has been associated with CD diagnosis and intermediate phenotypes, including abstinence-induced withdrawal, cue-elicited craving, and parahippocampal activation to cannabis cues. This study compared hippocampal and amygdalar volumes (potential CD intermediate phenotypes) between heavy cannabis users and healthy controls, and analyzed interactions between group, rs2023239 variation, and the volumes of these structures. Ninety-four heavy cannabis users participated, of whom 37 (14 men, 23 women; mean age=27.8) were matched to 37 healthy controls (14 men, 23 women; mean age=27.3) for case-control analyses. Controlling for total intracranial volume and other confounding variables, matched cannabis users had smaller bilateral hippocampi (left, p=0.002; right, p=0.001) and left amygdalae (p=0.01) than controls. When genotype was considered in the case-control analyses, there was a group by genotype interaction, such that the rs2023239 G allele predicted lower volume of bilateral hippocampi among cannabis users relative to controls (both p<0.001). This interaction persisted when all 94 cannabis users were compared to controls. There were no group by genotype interactions on amygdalar volume. These data replicate previous findings of reduced hippocampal and amygdalar volume among heavy cannabis users, and suggest that CNR1 rs2023239 variation may predispose smaller hippocampal volume after heavy cannabis use. This association should be tested in future studies of brain volume differences in CD.
marijuana; genetics; endocannabinoid; hippocampus; amygdala; addiction & substance abuse; amygdala; endocannabinoid; genetics; hippocampus; imaging; clinical or preclinical; marijuana; neuroanatomy; neurogenetics