Behavioral neuroscience

Interaction of metabolic stress with chronic mild stress in altering brain cytokines and sucrose preference.

PMID 25914924


There is growing evidence that metabolic stressors increase an organism's risk of depression. Chronic mild stress is a popular animal model of depression and several serendipitous findings have suggested that food deprivation prior to sucrose testing in this model is necessary to observe anhedonic behaviors. Here, we directly tested this hypothesis by exposing animals to chronic mild stress and used an overnight 2-bottle sucrose test (food ad libitum) on Day 5 and 10, then food and water deprive animals overnight and tested their sucrose consumption and preference in a 1-hr sucrose test the following morning. Approximately 65% of stressed animals consumed sucrose and showed a sucrose preference similar to nonstressed controls in an overnight sucrose test, and 35% showed a decrease in sucrose intake and preference. Following overnight food and water deprivation the previously "resilient" animals showed a significant decrease in sucrose preference and greatly reduced sucrose intake. In addition, we evaluated whether the onset of anhedonia following food and water deprivation corresponds to alterations in corticosterone, epinephrine, circulating glucose, or interleukin-1 beta (IL-1β) expression in limbic brain areas. Although all stressed animals showed adrenal hypertrophy and elevated circulating epinephrine, only stressed animals that were food deprived were hypoglycemic compared with food-deprived controls. Additionally, food and water deprivation significantly increased hippocampus IL-1β while food and water deprivation only increased hypothalamus IL-1β in stress-susceptible animals. These data demonstrate that metabolic stress of food and water deprivation interacts with chronic stressor exposure to induce physiological and anhedonic responses.