Postweaning social isolation enhances morphological changes in the neonatal ventral hippocampal lesion rat model of psychosis

Glenda Alquicer, Julio Cesar Morales-Medina, Remi Quirion, Gonzalo Flores
Journal of Chemical Neuroanatomy 2008, 35 (2): 179-87
Neonatal ventral hippocampal (nVH) lesions in rats have been widely used as a neurodevelopmental model that mimics schizophrenia-like behaviors. Recently, we reported that nVH-lesions result in significant decreases in both length of dendrites and dendritic density of spines of pyramidal neurons of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and in the density of dendritic spines of medium spiny neurons of the nucleus accumbens (NAcc). Moreover, postweaning social isolation induces major decreases in dendritic spiny density of PFC neurons. We investigated here the comparative dendritic morphology of PFC pyramidal neurons and NAcc medium spiny neurons in nVH rats, following social isolation after weaning (8 weeks). Morphological characteristics of dendrites were measured using the Golgi-Cox procedure followed by a Sholl analysis. Social isolation (SI) by itself induced decreases in dendritic length and dendritic spine density of the NAcc. In socially isolated nVH-lesion rats decrease in dendritic length in PFC and NAcc neurons were exacerbated whereas an increase in spine density of medium spiny neurons was observed in the NAcc. These results indicate that nVH-lesions alter dendritic morphology of NAcc and PFC neurons. These anatomical modifications in both structures may be relevant to behaviors observed in schizophrenia.

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