Chronic stress is a recognized risk factor for psychiatric and psychological disorders and a potent modulator of adult neurogenesis. Numerous studies have shown that during stress, neurogenesis decreases; however, during the recovery from the stress, neurogenesis increases. Despite the increased number of neurons born after stress, it is unknown if the function and morphology of those neurons are altered. Here we asked whether neurons in adult mice, born during the final 5 days of chronic social stress and matured during recovery from chronic social stress, are similar to neurons born with no stress conditions from a quantitative, functional and morphological perspective, and whether those neurons are uniquely adapted to respond to a subsequent stressful challenge. We observed an increased number of newborn neurons incorporated in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus during the 10-week post-stress recovery phase. Interestingly, those new neurons were more responsive to subsequent chronic stress, as they showed more of a stress-induced decrease in spine density and branching nodes than in neurons born during a non-stress period. Our results replicate findings that the neuronal survival and incorporation of neurons in the adult dentate gyrus increases after chronic stress and suggest that such neurons are uniquely adapted in the response to future social stressors. This finding provides a potential mechanism for some of the long-term hippocampal effects of stress.
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We thank Dr. Andrew K. Evans for valuable discussion. This work was supported by Marie Curie n-273487 (GCs-CNS-IS) awarded to Z.DM. and NIH R01MH085911 awarded to T.D.P.
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De Miguel, Z., Haditsch, U., Palmer, T.D. et al. Adult-generated neurons born during chronic social stress are uniquely adapted to respond to subsequent chronic social stress. Mol Psychiatry 24, 1178–1188 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41380-017-0013-1