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Changes in proinflammatory cytokines and white matter in chronically stressed rats

Authors Yang P, Gao Z, Zhang H, Fang Z, Wu C, Xu H, Huang Q

Received 25 November 2014

Accepted for publication 23 December 2014

Published 6 March 2015 Volume 2015:11 Pages 597—607


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Wai Kwong Tang

Ping Yang,1 Zhenyong Gao,1 Handi Zhang,1 Zeman Fang,1 Cairu Wu,1 Haiyun Xu,1,2 Qing-Jun Huang1

1Mental Health Center, 2Department of Anatomy, Shantou University Medical College, Shantou, Guangdong, People’s Republic of China

Abstract: Although the pathogenesis of depression, an incapacitating psychiatric ailment, remains largely unknown, previous human and animal studies have suggested that both proinflammatory cytokines and altered oligodendrocytes play important roles in the condition. This study examined these two factors in the brains of rats following unpredictable chronic mild stress for 4 weeks, with the hypothesis that chronic stress may affect oligodendrocytes and elevate proinflammatory cytokines in the brain. After suffering unpredictable stressors for 4 weeks, the rats showed depression-like behaviors, including decreased locomotion in the open field, increased immobility time in the forced swim test, and decreased sucrose consumption and less sucrose preference when compared with controls. Immunohistochemical staining of brain sections showed higher immunoreactivity of proinflammatory cytokines in certain brain regions of stressed rats compared with controls; lower immunoreactivity of myelin basic protein and fewer mature oligodendrocytes were seen in the prefrontal cortex, but no demyelination was detected. These results are interpreted and discussed in the context of recent findings from human and animal studies.

Keywords: cytokines, depression, myelination, oligodendrocytes, stress

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