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Forebrain Glucocorticoid Receptor Overexpression Alters Behavioral Encoding of Hippocampal CA1 Pyramidal Cells In Mice


Authors: Swapnil Gavade, Qiang Wei, Colin Johnston, Savannah Kounelis-Wuillaume, Klaudia Laborc, Salisha Baranwal, Huda Akil and Joanna L. Spencer-Seg
Publication: eNeuro
Date: November 23, 2022
Link to article: https://www.eneuro.org/content/9/6/ENEURO.0126-22.2022


Glucocorticoid signaling influences hippocampal-dependent behavior and vulnerability to stress-related neuropsychiatric disorders. In mice, lifelong overexpression of glucocorticoid receptor (GR) in forebrain excitatory neurons altered exploratory behavior, cognition, and dorsal hippocampal gene expression in adulthood, but whether GR overexpression alters the information encoded by hippocampal neurons is not known. We performed in vivo microendoscopic calcium imaging of 1359 dorsal CA1 pyramidal cells in freely behaving male and female wild-type (WT) and GR-overexpressing (GRov) mice during exploration of a novel open field, where most CA1 neurons are expected to respond to center location and mobility. Most neurons showed sensitivity to center location and/or mobility based on single-neuron calcium amplitude and event rate, but these sensitivity patterns differed between genotypes. GRov neurons were more likely than WT neurons to display center sensitivity and less likely to display mobility sensitivity. More than one-third of these responsive GRov neurons were sensitive only to center location and not mobility, while uniquely center-sensitive neurons were rare in WT. Most center-sensitive neurons exhibited anticipatory activity, suggesting they could drive behavior. We conclude that, compared with wild-type, dorsal CA1 pyramidal cells in GRov mice preferentially respond to center location rather than mobility in a novel open field. Such changes in the information encoded by individual hippocampal neurons in an aversive environment could underlie changes in stress vulnerability because of genetic or epigenetic variations in glucocorticoid receptor signaling.

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