Repeated social defeat promotes persistent inflammatory changes in splenic myeloid cells; decreased expression of β-arrestin-2 (ARRB2) and increased expression of interleukin-6 (IL-6)
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionBMC Neuroscience. 2020, 21, 25 10.1186/s12868-020-00574-4
Background Previous studies suggest that persistent exposure to social stress in mammals may be associated with multiple physiological effects. Here, we examine the effects of social stress in rats, i.e. repeated social defeat, on behavior, hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA)-axis and immune system. Methods A resident-intruder paradigm, where an intruder rat was exposed to social stress by a dominant resident rat for 1 hour each day for 7 consecutive days was used. The day after the last stress exposure in the paradigm the data were analyzed. Variation in social interaction was observed manually, whereas locomotion was analyzed off-line by a purpose-made software. Gene expression in the pituitary gland, adrenal gland and myeloid cells isolated from the spleen was measured by qPCR. Results The exposure to social stress induced decreased weight gain and increased locomotion. An increased nuclear receptor subfamily group C number 1 (NR3C1) expression in the pituitary gland was also shown. In myeloid cells harvested from the spleen, we observed decreased expression of the β2-adrenergic receptor (ADRB2) and β-arrestin-2 (ARRB2), but increased expression of interleukin-6 (IL-6). Subsequent analyses in the same cells showed that ARRB2 was negatively correlated with IL-6 following the stress exposure. Conclusion Our results show that that the experience of social stress in the form of repeated social defeat in rats is a potent stressor that in myeloid cells in the spleen promotes persistent inflammatory changes. Future research is needed to examine whether similar inflammatory changes also can explain the impact of social stress, such as bullying and harassment, among humans.