Monoamine neurotransmitters (e.g., serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine) are powerful modulators of mood and cognitive function in health and disease. We have been investigating the modulation of monoamine clearance in select brain regions via organic cation transporters (OCTs), a family of nonselective monoamine transporters. OCTs are thought to complement the actions of selective monoamine transporters in the brain by helping to clear monoamines from the extracellular space; thus, assisting to terminate the monoamine signal. Of particular interest, stress hormones (corticosterone; CORT) inhibit OCT3-mediated transport of monoamine, to putatively lead to prolonged monoamine signaling. It has been demonstrated that stress levels of CORT block OCT3 transport in the rat hypothalamus, an effect that likely underlies the rapid, stress-induced increase in local monoamines. We examined the effect of chronic variable stress (CVS) on the development of mood disorders and OCT3 expression in limbic and hypothalamic regions of the rat brain. Animals subjected to CVS (14-days with random stressor exposure two times/day) showed reduced body weight gain, indicating that CVS was perceived as stressful. However, behavioral tests of anxiety and depressive-like behaviors in rats showed no group differences. Although there were no behavioral effects of stress, molecular analysis revealed that there were stress-related changes in OCT3 protein expression. In situ hybridization data confirmed that OCT3 mRNA is expressed in the hippocampus, amygdala, and hypothalamus. Analysis of Western blot data by two-way ANOVA revealed a significant treatment effect on OCT3 protein levels, with a significant decrease in OCT3 protein in the amygdala and hippocampus in CVS rats, compared to controls. These data suggest an important role for CORT sensitive OCT3 in the reduction of monoamine clearance during stress.
- Chronic Variable Stress Effects on Anxiety and Expression of Organic Cation Transporter 3
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