Too much of a good thing: Blocking noradrenergic facilitation in medial prefrontal cortex prevents the detrimental effects of chronic stress on cognition

Julianne D. Jett, David A. Morilak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

27 Scopus citations

Abstract

Cognitive impairments associated with dysfunction of the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) are prominent in stress-related psychiatric disorders. We have shown that enhancing noradrenergic tone acutely in the rat mPFC facilitated extra-dimensional (ED) set-shifting on the attentional set-shifting test (AST), whereas chronic unpredictable stress (CUS) impaired ED. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that the acute facilitatory effect of norepinephrine (NE) in mPFC becomes detrimental when activated repeatedly during CUS. Using microdialysis, we showed that the release of NE evoked in mPFC by acute stress was unchanged at the end of CUS treatment. Thus, to then determine if repeated elicitation of this NE activity in mPFC during CUS may have contributed to the ED deficit, we infused a cocktail of α 1-, β 1-, and β 2-adrenergic receptor antagonists into the mPFC prior to each CUS session, then tested animals drug free on the AST. Antagonist treatment prevented the CUS-induced ED deficit, suggesting that NE signaling during CUS compromised mPFC function. We confirmed that this was not attributable to sensitization of adrenergic receptor function following chronic antagonist treatment, by administering an additional microinjection into the mPFC immediately prior to ED testing. Acute antagonist treatment did not reverse the beneficial effects of chronic drug treatment during CUS, nor have any effect on baseline ED performance in chronic vehicle controls. Thus, we conclude that blockade of noradrenergic receptors in mPFC protected against the detrimental cognitive effects of CUS, and that repeated elicitation of noradrenergic facilitatory activity is one mechanism by which chronic stress may promote mPFC cognitive dysfunction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)585-595
Number of pages11
JournalNeuropsychopharmacology
Volume38
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2013

Keywords

  • chronic stress
  • cognitive flexibility
  • depression
  • medial prefrontal cortex
  • norepinephrine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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