Development×environment interactions control tph2 mRNA expression Academic Article uri icon


  • Adverse early life experience is thought to increase an individual's susceptibility to mental health disorders, including anxiety and affective disorders, later in life. Our previous studies have shown that post-weaning social isolation of female rats during a critical period of development sensitizes an anxiety-related serotonergic dorsal raphe nucleus (DR) system in adulthood. Therefore, we investigated how post-weaning social isolation, in combination with a challenge with the anxiogenic drug, N-methyl-beta-carboline-3-carboxamide (FG-7142; a partial inverse agonist at the benzodiazepine allosteric site on the GABAA receptor), affects home cage behavior and serotonergic gene expression in the DR of female rats using in situ hybridization histochemistry. Juvenile female rats were reared in isolation or groups of three for a 3-week period from weaning (postnatal day (PD) 21 to mid-adolescence (PD42)), after which all rats were group-reared for an additional 16 days until adulthood. Among vehicle-treated rats, isolation-reared rats had decreased rodent tryptophan hydroxylase 2 (tph2) mRNA expression in ventral and ventrolateral subdivisions of the DR, a pattern observed previously in a rat model of panic disorder. Isolation-reared rats, but not group-reared rats, responded to FG-7142 with increased duration of vigilance and arousal behaviors. In addition, FG-7142 decreased tph2 expression, measured 4h following treatment, in multiple subregions of the DR of group-reared rats but had no effect in isolation-reared rats. No treatment effects were observed on 5-HT1A receptor or serotonin transporter gene expression. These data suggest that adolescent social isolation alters tph2 expression in specific subregions of the DR and alters the effects of stress-related stimuli on behavior and serotonergic systems.


  • Lukkes, JL
  • Kopelman, JM
  • Donner, NC
  • Hale, MW
  • Lowry, CA

publication date

  • May 2013

has subject area