Chronic social isolation in mice causes transformations in their brain

Chronic social isolation in mice causes transformations in their brain

Chronic social isolation in mice causes the accumulation of a chemical in the brain, but if it is blocked, its negative effects are eliminated from isolation, which may have potential applications for the treatment of mental health disorders in humans.
Having a situation of chronic social isolation has debilitating effects on the mental health of mammals and, for example, it is usually associated with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder in humans.
A study published today by Cell confirms and extends previous knowledge that prolonged social isolation generates a “wide range of behavioral changes in mice,” says a statement from the California Institute of Technology (USA).
These changes include greater aggressiveness towards unknown mice, persistent fear or hypersensitivity to threatening stimuli.
These effects, explains the study, are detected when rodents are subjected to two weeks of social isolation, but not when that situation is maintained for a short period (24 hours) which suggests that the changes observed require chronic or sustained isolation in the time.
There is a neuropeptide called tachykinin that intervenes in increasing the aggressiveness of socially isolated flies and the team of experts wanted to study if this also has a role in controlling the aggression induced by social isolation in mammals, for which mice were studied .
In mice, the tachykinin gene (Tac2) encodes a neuropeptide called NkB. Tac2 / NkB is produced by neurons in specific regions of the mouse brain such as the amygdala and the hypothalamus, which are involved in emotional and social behavior.
The researchers found that chronic social isolation increased the expression of Tac2 and the production of NkB in the brain.
They also found that inhibiting the function of the Tac2 gene in the amygdala eliminates increased fear behaviors, but not aggression, while suppressing the gene in the hypothalamus eliminated increased aggression, but not persistent fear.

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