Previously, we found that basal corticosterone pulsatility significantly impacts the vulnerability for developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Rats that exhibited PTSD-phenotype were characterized by blunted basal corticosterone pulsatility amplitude and a blunted corticosterone response to a stressor. This study sought to identify the mechanisms underlining both the loss of pulsatility and differences in downstream responses. Serial blood samples were collected manually via jugular vein cannula at 10-min intervals to evaluate suppression of corticosterone following methylprednisolone administration. The rats were exposed to predator scent stress (PSS) after 24 h, and behavioral responses were assessed 7 days post-exposure for retrospective classification into behavioral response groups. Brains were harvested for measurements of the glucocorticoid receptor, mineralocorticoid receptor, FK506-binding protein-51 and arginine vasopressin in specific brain regions to assess changes in hypothalamus–pituitary–adrenal axis (HPA) regulating factors. Methylprednisolone produced greater suppression of corticosterone in the PTSD-phenotype group. During the suppression, the PTSD-phenotype rats showed a significantly more pronounced pulsatile activity. In addition, the PTSD-phenotype group showed distinct changes in the ventral and dorsal CA1, dentate gyrus as well as in the paraventricular nucleus and supra-optic nucleus. These results demonstrate a pre-trauma vulnerability state that is characterized by an over-reactivity of the HPA and changes in its regulating factors.
- Animal model
- Arginine vasopressin
- FK506-binding protein 51 (FKBP5)
- Glucocorticoid receptor
- Hypothalamus–pituitary–adrenal axis
- Mineralocorticoid receptor
- Posttraumatic stress disorder