Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder whose pathogenesis relies on a maladaptive expression of the memory for a life-threatening experience, characterized by over-consolidation, generalization, and impaired extinction, which are responsible of dramatic changes in arousal, mood, anxiety, and social behavior. Even if subjects experiencing a traumatic event during lifetime all show an acute response to the trauma, only a subset of them (susceptible) ultimately develops PTSD, meanwhile the others (resilient) fully recover after the first acute response. However, the dynamic relationships between the interacting brain circuits that might potentially link trauma-related experiences to the emergence of susceptible and resilient PTSD phenotypes in individuals is not well understood. Toward the first step to reach this goal, we have implemented our experimental PTSD model previously developed, making it suitable to differentiate between susceptible (high responders, HR) and resilient (low responders, LR) rats in terms of over-consolidation, impaired extinction, and social impairment long after trauma. Rats were exposed to five footshocks paired with social isolation. One week after trauma but before extinction, animals were tested in the Open Field and Social Interaction tasks for the identification of a predictive variable to identify susceptible and resilient animals before the possible appearance of a PTSD-like phenotype. Our findings show that exploratory activity after trauma in a novel environment is a very robust variable to predict susceptibility towards a PTSD-like phenotype. This experimental model is thus able to screen and differentiate, before extinction learning and potential therapeutic intervention, susceptible and resilient PTSD-like rats.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Biological Psychiatry