Effect of chronic unpredictable stress on mice with developmental under-expression of the Ahi1 gene: Behavioral manifestations and neurobiological correlates

Gilly Wolf, Tzuri Lifschytz, Hagar Ben-Ari, Pavel Tatarskyy, Tirzah Kreisel Merzel, Amit Lotan, Bernard Lerer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

The Abelson helper integration site 1 (Ahi1) gene plays a pivotal role in brain development and is associated with genetic susceptibility to schizophrenia, and other neuropsychiatric disorders. Translational research in genetically modified mice may reveal the neurobiological mechanisms of such associations. Previous studies of mice heterozygous for Ahi1 knockout (Ahi1+/-) revealed an attenuated anxiety response on various relevant paradigms, in the context of a normal glucocorticoid response to caffeine and pentylenetetrazole. Resting-state fMRI showed decreased amygdalar connectivity with various limbic brain regions and altered network topology. However, it was not clear from previous studies whether stress-hyporesponsiveness reflected resilience or, conversely, a cognitive-emotional deficit. The present studies were designed to investigate the response of Ahi1+/- mice to chronic unpredictable stress (CUS) applied over 9 weeks. Wild type (Ahi1+/+) mice were significantly affected by CUS, manifesting decreased sucrose preference (p < 0.05); reduced anxiety on the elevated plus maze and light dark box and decreased thigmotaxis in the open field (p < 0.01 0.05); decreased hyperthermic response to acute stress (p < 0.05); attenuated contextual fear conditioning (p < 0.01) and increased neurogenesis (p < 0.05). In contrast, Ahi1+/- mice were indifferent to the effects of CUS assessed with the same parameters. Our findings suggest that Ahi1 under-expression during neurodevelopment, as manifested by Ahi1+/- mice, renders these mice stress hyporesponsive. Ahi1 deficiency during development may attenuate the perception and/or integration of environmental stressors as a result of impaired corticolimbic connectivity or aberrant functional wiring. These neural mechanisms may provide initial clues as to the role Ahi1 in schizophrenia and other neuropsychiatric disorders.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number124
JournalTranslational Psychiatry
Volume8
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2018

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© 2018 The Author(s).

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