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      Long-Term Sertraline Intake Reverses the Behavioral Changes Induced by Prenatal Stress in Rats in a Sex-Dependent Way

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          Early life stress is a major factor underlying the vulnerability to respond to stressful events later in life. The present study attempted to evaluate the role of prenatal stress affecting the development of stress-related disorders and their reversion by postnatal exposure to Sertraline (SERT), a front-line medication for medication for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in humans. To achieve this, adult male and female prenatally stressed (PS) or unstressed (Controls) offspring rats, following oral chronic treatment with SERT (5 mg/kg/day; from 1 month to 4 months old), or not, were studied prior to and after a traumatic event. First, anxiety-like behavior during the prepulse inhibition (PPI) test, a modulation of the startle reflex, was examined in all animals. Subsequently, the animals were subjected to a session of mild inescapable footshocks (IS; 0.35 mA, 5 s) in a shuttle box that was followed by 4 days of situational reminders in the aversive context. Prior to the footshocks no effects of PS or SERT were shown, and no changes in PPI and the habituation to the shuttle box were found. After them, PS led animals to exhibit behavioral alterations. When compared to the Controls, PS animals of both sexes displayed less rearing activity in the aversive environment. PS males responded less to footshock delivery and, in most of the animals, fear extinction was impaired. Moreover, the early postnatal exposure to SERT lessened the behavioral impact of PS in females, while in males it had no effect. Current results extend previous data from our laboratory, showing that PS heightened vulnerability to stress later on, and that SERT acts differently in males and females.

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          Most cited references 51

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          Central effects of stress hormones in health and disease: Understanding the protective and damaging effects of stress and stress mediators.

           B McEwen (2008)
          Stress begins in the brain and affects the brain, as well as the rest of the body. Acute stress responses promote adaptation and survival via responses of neural, cardiovascular, autonomic, immune and metabolic systems. Chronic stress can promote and exacerbate pathophysiology through the same systems that are dysregulated. The burden of chronic stress and accompanying changes in personal behaviors (smoking, eating too much, drinking, poor quality sleep; otherwise referred to as "lifestyle") is called allostatic overload. Brain regions such as hippocampus, prefrontal cortex and amygdala respond to acute and chronic stress and show changes in morphology and chemistry that are largely reversible if the chronic stress lasts for weeks. However, it is not clear whether prolonged stress for many months or years may have irreversible effects on the brain. The adaptive plasticity of chronic stress involves many mediators, including glucocorticoids, excitatory amino acids, endogenous factors such as brain neurotrophic factor (BDNF), polysialated neural cell adhesion molecule (PSA-NCAM) and tissue plasminogen activator (tPA). The role of this stress-induced remodeling of neural circuitry is discussed in relation to psychiatric illnesses, as well as chronic stress and the concept of top-down regulation of cognitive, autonomic and neuroendocrine function. This concept leads to a different way of regarding more holistic manipulations, such as physical activity and social support as an important complement to pharmaceutical therapy in treatment of the common phenomenon of being "stressed out". Policies of government and the private sector play an important role in this top-down view of minimizing the burden of chronic stress and related lifestyle (i.e. allostatic overload).
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            Relations among posttraumatic stress disorder, comorbid major depression, and HPA function: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

            Exposure to traumatic stress is associated with increased risk for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and alterations of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) function. Research linking traumatic stress with HPA function in PTSD has been inconsistent, however, in part due to (a) the inclusion of trauma-exposed individuals without PTSD (TE) in control groups and (b) a failure to consider comorbid major depressive disorder (MDD) and moderating variables. This meta-analysis of 47 studies (123 effect sizes, N=6008 individuals) revealed that daily cortisol output was lower for PTSD (d=-.36, SE=.15, p=.008) and PTSD+MDD (d=-.65, SE=.25, p=.008) groups relative to no trauma controls (NTC); TE and NTC groups did not differ significantly from each other. Afternoon/evening cortisol was lower in TE (d=-.25, SE=.09, p=.007) and PTSD (d=-.27, SE=.12, p=.021) groups and higher in PTSD+MDD groups (d=.49, SE=.24, p=.041) relative to NTC. Post-DST cortisol levels were lower in PTSD (d=-.40, SE=.12, p<.001), PTSD+MDD (d=-.65, SE=.14, p<.001), and TE groups (d=-.53, SE=.14, p<.001) relative to NTC. HPA effect sizes were moderated by age, sex, time since index event, and developmental timing of trauma exposure. These findings suggest that enhanced HPA feedback function may be a marker of trauma-exposure rather than a specific mechanism of vulnerability for PTSD, whereas lower daily cortisol output may be associated with PTSD in particular. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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              Determination of the estrous cycle phases of rats: some helpful considerations.

              The short length of the estrous cycle of rats makes them ideal for investigation of changes occurring during the reproductive cycle. The estrous cycle lasts four days and is characterized as: proestrus, estrus, metestrus and diestrus, which may be determined according to the cell types observed in the vaginal smear. Since the collection of vaginal secretion and the use of stained material generally takes some time, the aim of the present work was to provide researchers with some helpful considerations about the determination of the rat estrous cycle phases in a fast and practical way. Vaginal secretion of thirty female rats was collected every morning during a month and unstained native material was observed using the microscope without the aid of the condenser lens. Using the 10 x objective lens, it was easier to analyze the proportion among the three cellular types, which are present in the vaginal smear. Using the 40 x objective lens, it is easier to recognize each one of these cellular types. The collection of vaginal lavage from the animals, the observation of the material, in the microscope, and the determination of the estrous cycle phase of all the thirty female rats took 15-20 minutes.

                Author and article information

                Front Behav Neurosci
                Front Behav Neurosci
                Front. Behav. Neurosci.
                Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                29 May 2017
                : 11
                1Neuroscience Institute of Castilla y León, Institute for Biomedical Research of Salamanca (IBSAL), University of Salamanca Salamanca, Spain
                2Department of Cell Biology and Pathology, University of Salamanca Salamanca, Spain
                3Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, University of Salamanca Salamanca, Spain
                4Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Animal Health (CIISA), Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Lisbon Lisbon, Portugal
                Author notes

                Edited by: John D. Salamone, University of Connecticut, United States

                Reviewed by: Deborah Suchecki, Federal University of São Paulo, Brazil; Gordon Alfred Barr, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, United States

                *Correspondence: Inês Pereira-Figueiredo inespereirafigueiredo@
                Copyright © 2017 Pereira-Figueiredo, Castellano, Riolobos, Ferreira-Dias, López and Sancho.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                Page count
                Figures: 5, Tables: 1, Equations: 0, References: 53, Pages: 11, Words: 8444
                Funded by: Ministerio de Economà-a y Competitividad 10.13039/501100003329
                Award ID: SAF2016-78898-C2-2R
                Original Research


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