Depression results from the interaction of social, psychological and biological factors, with adverse life events called stressors being major risk factors. In mice, chronic social stress leads to reduced interest in reward, as demonstrated by measuring the amount of behavioural effort that stressed mice will make to obtain sucrose rewards, compared with control mice. There is evidence that the amygdala, a brain region that is important in the processing of stressors, is also important in reward processing.
Using a combination of neuron labelling with a fluorescent protein retrograde tracer, MMI CellCut LCM, and RNA-sequencing, it was possible to demonstrate that chronic social stress in mice leads to changes in gene expression in amygdala glutamate neurons projecting to nucleus accumbens. The study provides supportive evidence that this pathway mediates stress effects on reward processing.
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