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Browsing by Subject "oligodendrocytes"

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  • Heikkinen, Aino (2018)
    Chronic psychosocial stress is a major risk factor for anxiety disorders, but the molecular background is still poorly known. Chronic social defeat stress (CSDS) is a mouse model simulating the psychosocial stress that humans face in their life. In CSDS, the examined mice are confronted by an aggressor mouse daily for 10 days, leading to defeat behavior and predisposing to anxiety-like symptoms. Some individuals develop these symptoms (susceptible) whereas others do not (resilient). Chronic stress has been shown to alter myelin-related gene transcription and myelin microstructure. Myelin is a membranous component around axons increasing the velocity of action potentials, and it is produced by oligodendrocytes (OLs). In this study, I investigated if CSDS affects the number of OLs or the size of the myelinated area (estimating the amount of myelin) in two inbred mouse strains that differ in their innate level of anxiety: the non-anxious C57BL/6NCrl (B6) and anxious DBA/2NCrl (D2). I studied three brain regions previously associated with anxiety: the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), bed nucleus of stria terminalis (BNST) and ventral hippocampus (vHP). The mice used in this study were previously exposed to CSDS and divided into resilient or susceptible phenotypes, and their brains were collected together with control mice. I performed two immunohistochemical staining experiments to calculate the number of OLs and to measure the myelinated area. I used anti-CNPase for OL cell counts and BlackGold II to stain myelin. I manually calculated the number of OLs using CNPase and cell morphology as markers. I built a macro to measure the BlackGold II stained myelinated area. I also measured the thickness of the corpus callosum (CC, major white matter tract) using the CNPase stained images to examine if the thickness is affected by CSDS. I observed a strain and region-specific effect of chronic stress in the BNST; B6 resilient mice had more OLs than susceptible mice whereas no differences were seen in the D2 strain, or other B6 brain regions. The size of the myelinated area did not differ between the phenotypes in either strain. Moreover, there was no significant correlation between the myelinated area and OL cell number. The CC thickness did not differ between the phenotypes. My findings indicate that myelin and OLs are affected by stress in a region specific manner and possibly contribute to the stress-resilient behavior. The response is genetic background-dependent, as I saw differences in B6 mice but not in D2 mice. Because CC thickness did not differ between the phenotypes, we suggest that CSDS does not induce extensive white matter atrophy in the mice brain. The mechanism underlying this dynamic myelin plasticity during stress requires more investigation, but this study provides evidence that alterations in OLs associate with chronic stress.