Behavioural pharmacology

Stress-induced increases in depression-like and cocaine place-conditioned behaviors are reversed by disruption of memories during reconsolidation.

PMID 25083575


Maladaptive behavioral responses characteristic of post-traumatic stress disorders are notably resistant to treatment. We hypothesized that the pharmacological disruption of memories activated during reconsolidation might reverse established stress-induced increases in depression-like behaviors and cocaine reward. C57BL/6J mice were subjected to repeated social defeat stress (SDS), and examined for time spent immobile in a subsequent forced swim test (FST). An additional set of SDS-exposed mice were place-conditioned with cocaine, and tested for cocaine-conditioned place preference (CPP). All stress-exposed mice were then subjected to a single additional trial of SDS while under the influence of propranolol or cycloheximide to disrupt memory reconsolidation, then given one additional FST or CPP test the next day. Mice subjected to repeated SDS subsequently demonstrated increases in time spent immobile in the FST or in the cocaine-paired chamber. Vehicle-treatment followed by additional SDS exposure did not alter these behaviors, but propranolol or cycloheximide treatment reversed each of the potentiated responses in a dose-dependent manner. Overall, these results demonstrate that while repeated exposure to a social defeat stressor subsequently increased depression-like behavior and cocaine-CPP, disruption of traumatic memories made labile by re-exposure to SDS during reconsolidation may have therapeutic value in the treatment of established post-traumatic stress disorder-related behaviors.