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Neural plasticity is affected by stress and heritable variation in stress coping style

Elsevier Inc.
Publication Date
  • Biology


Here we use a comparative model to investigate how behavioral and physiological traits correlate with neural <br/>plasticity. Selection for divergent post-stress cortisol levels in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) has <br/>yielded low- (LR) and high responsive (HR) lines. Recent reports show low behavioral flexibility in LR compared <br/>to HR fish and we hypothesize that this divergence is caused by differences in neural plasticity. Genes <br/>involved in neural plasticity and neurogenesis were investigated by quantitative PCR in brains of LR and HR <br/>fish at baseline conditions and in response to two different stress paradigms: short-term confinement (STC) <br/>and long-term social (LTS) stress. Expression of proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), neurogenic differentiation <br/>factor (NeuroD) and doublecortin (DCX) was generally higher in HR compared to LR fish. STC stress <br/>led to increased expression of PCNA and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in both lines, whereas LTS <br/>stress generally suppressed PCNA and NeuroD expression while leaving BDNF expression unaltered. These <br/>results indicate that the transcription of neuroplasticity-related genes is associated with variation in coping <br/>style, while also being affected by STC – and LTS stress in a biphasic manner. A higher degree of neural plasticity <br/>in HR fish may provide the substrate for enhanced behavioral flexibility

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