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Early life stress impairs VTA coordination of BLA network and behavioral states

bioRxiv

Authors: Bradly T. Stone, Pantelis Antonoudiou, Eric Teboul, Garrett Scarpa, Grant Weiss, Jamie L. Maguire
Publication: bioRxiv
Date: September 17, 2023
Link to article: https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2023.09.16.558081v1

Abstract

Motivated behaviors, such as social interactions, are governed by the interplay between mesocorticolimbic structures, such as the ventral tegmental area (VTA), basolateral amygdala (BLA), and medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). Adverse childhood experiences and early life stress (ELS) can impact these networks and behaviors, which is associated with increased risk for psychiatric illnesses. While it is known that the VTA projects to both the BLA and mPFC, the influence of these inputs on local network activity which govern behavioral states – and whether ELS impacts VTA-mediated network communication – remains unknown. Our study demonstrates that VTA inputs influence BLA oscillations and mPFC activity, and that ELS weakens the ability of the VTA to coordinate BLA network states, likely due to ELS-induced impairments in dopamine signaling between the VTA and BLA. Consequently, ELS mice exhibit increased social avoidance, which can be recapitulated in control mice by inhibiting VTA-BLA communication. These data suggest that ELS impacts social reward via the VTA-BLA dopamine network.

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