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Keywords:

  • restraint stress;
  • serotonin;
  • tyrosinated α-tubulin;
  • acetylated α-tubulin;
  • Western blot;
  • voltammetry

Abstract

The aetiology of depression is associated with depletion in central levels of serotonin (5-HT). Hence, a major effect of antidepressant drugs is to increase synaptic 5-HT levels. Stressful conditions have also been shown to affect neuronal plasticity and 5-HT neurotransmission in the hippocampus. Neuronal plasticity, which is typically referred to as a structural adaptation of neurons to functional requirements, requires more dynamic forms of microtubules (cytoskeletal component). The α-tubulin, which is the major component of microtubules, can be postranslationally modified and both the tyrosinated (tyr-tub) and acetylated (acet-tub) forms are considered markers of more dynamic or more stable microtubules, respectively. The aim of the present work was to investigate the expression of tyr-tub and acet-tub in the hippocampus of rats submitted to either acute (6 h for 1 day) or sub-chronic (6 h for 4 days every day) restraint stress. In addition, ex vivo hippocampal 5-HT levels were monitored by differential pulse voltammetry to analyse the influence of both stress conditions upon 5-HT levels. Our results showed that the expression of tyr-tub in the hippocampus was significantly decreased to 70 ± 7% following sub-chronic restraint stress (P < 0.01). In contrast, acute and sub-chronic restraint stress increased the hippocampal expression of acet-tub to 139 ± 11% and 145 ± 11% of control, respectively. Finally, 5-HT levels were significantly increased (P < 0.05) to 142 ± 15% and 135 ± 11% following acute and sub-chronic restraint stress, respectively. The stress-induced cytoskeletal changes observed in the present study suggest that the microtubular network is a potential new pathway that may increase our understanding of stress-related events. Synapse 49:188–194, 2003. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.