Mechanisms underlying prelimbic prefrontal cortex mGlu3/mGlu5-dependent plasticity and reversal learning deficits following acute stress

Max E Joffe, Chiaki I Santiago, Branden J Stansley, James Maksymetz, Rocco G Gogliotti, Julie L Engers, Ferdinando Nicoletti, Craig W Lindsley, P Jeffrey Conn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Stress can precipitate or worsen symptoms of many psychiatric illnesses. Dysregulation of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) glutamate system may underlie these disruptions and restoring PFC glutamate signaling has emerged as a promising avenue for the treatment of stress disorders. Recently, we demonstrated that activation of metabotropic glutamate receptor subtype 3 (mGlu3) induces a postsynaptic form of long-term depression (LTD) that is dependent on the activity of another subtype, mGlu5. Stress exposure disrupted this plasticity, but the underlying signaling mechanisms and involvement in higher-order cognition have not yet been investigated. Acute stress was applied by 20-min restraint and early reversal learning was evaluated in an operant-based food-seeking task. We employed whole-cell patch-clamp recordings of layer 5 prelimbic (PL)-PFC pyramidal cells to examine mGlu3-LTD and several mechanistically distinct mGlu5-dependent functions. Acute stress impaired both mGlu3-LTD and early reversal learning. Interestingly, potentiating mGlu5 signaling with the mGlu5 positive allosteric modulator (PAM) VU0409551 rescued stress-induced deficits in both mGlu3-LTD and reversal learning. Other aspects of PL-PFC mGlu5 function were not disrupted following stress; however, signaling downstream of mGlu5-Homer interactions, phosphoinositide-3-kinase (PI3K), Akt, and glycogen synthase kinase 3β was implicated in these phenomena. These findings demonstrate that acute stress disrupts early reversal learning and PL-PFC-dependent synaptic plasticity and that potentiating mGlu5 function can restore these impairments. These findings provide a framework through which modulating coordinated mGlu3/mGlu5 signaling may confer benefits for the treatment of stress-related psychiatric disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-28
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019


  • Animals
  • Appetitive Behavior/drug effects
  • Central Nervous System Agents/pharmacology
  • Cerebral Cortex/drug effects
  • Conditioning, Operant/drug effects
  • Learning Disorders/etiology
  • Male
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Neuronal Plasticity/drug effects
  • Pyramidal Cells/drug effects
  • Receptor, Metabotropic Glutamate 5/agonists
  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate/metabolism
  • Restraint, Physical
  • Reversal Learning/drug effects
  • Stress, Psychological/metabolism
  • Tissue Culture Techniques


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