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Early life stress induces long-term changes in limbic areas of a teleost fish: the role of catecholamine systems in stress coping

Journal article
Authors Marco A. Vindas
S. Fokos
M. Pavlidis
E. Hoglund
S. Dionysopoulou
L. O. E. Ebbesson
N. Papandroulakis
C. R. Dermon
Published in Scientific Reports
Volume 8
ISSN 2045-2322
Publication year 2018
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology
Language en
Keywords trout oncorhynchus-mykiss, zebrafish danio-rerio, adrenergic receptors, nucleus-accumbens, lateral septum, brain, behavior, dopamine, mechanisms, adult
Subject categories Animal physiology, Neurosciences


Early life stress (ELS) shapes the way individuals cope with future situations. Animals use cognitive flexibility to cope with their ever-changing environment and this is mainly processed in forebrain areas. We investigated the performance of juvenile gilthead seabream, previously subjected to an ELS regime. ELS fish showed overall higher brain catecholaminergic (CA) signalling and lower brain derived neurotrophic factor (bdnf) and higher cfos expression in region-specific areas. All fish showed a normal cortisol and serotonergic response to acute stress. Brain dopaminergic activity and the expression of the alpha(2A) adrenergic receptor were overall higher in the fish homologue to the lateral septum (Vv), suggesting that the Vv is important in CA system regulation. Interestingly, ELS prevented post-acute stress downregulation of the alpha(2A) receptor in the amygdala homologue (Dm3). There was a lack of post-stress response in the beta(2) adrenergic receptor expression and a downregulation in bdnf in the Dm3 of ELS fish, which together indicate an allostatic overload in their stress coping ability. ELS fish showed higher neuronal activity (cfos) post-acute stress in the hippocampus homologue (Dlv) and the Dm3. Our results show clear long-term effects on limbic systems of seabream that may compromise their future coping ability to environmental challenges.

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