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Mood is influenced by immune cells called to the brain in response to stress
Date:8/21/2013

are recruited to the brain by signals generated by the animal's interpretation of social defeat as stressful."

The research appears in the Aug. 21, 2013, issue of The Journal of Neuroscience.

Mice in this study were subjected to stress that might resemble a person's response to persistent life stressors. In this model of stress, male mice living together are given time to establish a hierarchy, and then an aggressive male is added to the group for two hours. This elicits a "fight or flight" response in the resident mice as they are repeatedly defeated. The experience of social defeat leads to submissive behaviors and the development of anxiety-like behavior.

Mice subjected to zero, one, three or six cycles of this social defeat were then tested for anxiety symptoms. The more cycles of social defeat, the higher the anxiety symptoms; mice took longer to enter an open space and opted for darkness rather than light when given the choice. Anxiety symptoms corresponded to higher levels of monocytes that had traveled to the animals' brains from the blood.

Additional experiments showed that these cells did not originate in the brain, but traveled there from the bone marrow. In previous studies, this same research group showed that cells in the brain called microglia, the brain's first line of immune defense, are activated by prolonged stress and are partly responsible for the signals that call up monocytes from the bone marrow.

"There are different moving parts from the central and peripheral components, and what's novel is them coming together to influence behavior," said Jonathan Godbout, a senior co-author of the paper and an associate professor of neuroscience at Ohio State.

Exactly what happens at this point in the brain remains unknown, but the research offers clues. The monocytes that travel to the brain don't respond to natural anti-inflammatory steroids in the body and have characteristics signifying th
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Contact: John Sheridan
John.Sheridan@osumc.edu
614-293-3571
Ohio State University
Source:Eurekalert

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