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Theses

Reversal strategies within the lateral habenula to ameliorate depressive-like behaviors

Abstract : Prolonged exposure to aversive stimuli leads to cellular and circuit adaptations that contribute to the emergence of neuropsychiatric disorders such as depression. Interactions between the dopaminergic (DA) and the serotoninergic (5HT) systems have been implicated in these pathological adaptations ultimately influencing motivated behaviors. Interestingly, the lateral habenula (LHb), an ethologically well-conserved epithalamic region, directly and indirectly controls DA and 5HT systems, and its activity is modulated by aversive events in both humans and animals. Moreover, the activity of the LHb increases in animal models of depression and depressed human patients. Conversely, strategies that locally target the LHb have been shown to reverse depressive-like symptoms both in animal models and in humans. Altogether, this led to the hypothesis that LHb dysregulation could play a role in the emergence of depressive like symptoms. However, little is known about the early cellular and molecular adaptations that occur within the LHb after exposure to aversive events. Moreover, most of the animal models employed to interrogate the LHb role in depressive states used acute painful stimuli; whether LHb function becomes aberrant after chronic exposure to painless stressors remain elusive. In my thesis work, I explored the precise cellular and molecular adaptations of LHb neurons following exposure to different kind of unpredictable aversive experiences, and their importance for the expression of depressive like symptoms.More precisely, I will present the results of an initial work aiming to identify early cellular and molecular adaptations within the LHb following unpredictable stimuli and their importance for the emergence of depressive symptoms. This study shows that unpredictable foot-shocks lead to decreased surface expression and function of the gamma-aminobutyrate receptor (GABABR), a metabotropic receptor that hyperpolarizes LHb neurons through the activation of the G protein-coupled inwardly-rectifying potassium channels (GIRKs). This decrease of GABABR-GIRK signaling went along with an upregulation of the activity of the protein phosphatase 2 (PP2A), which is a well-known down-regulator of GABAB-GIRK complex surface expression. GABABR-GIRK signaling tightly controls LHb activity, and its downregulation consequently leads to aberrant hyperexcitability of LHb neurons. Using specific strategies to restore the GABABR-GIRK signaling within the LHb, such as GIRK overexpression, or local pharmacological inhibition of PP2A activity, we were able to ameliorate depressive like states following unpredictable foot-shocks. The second study allowed instead to establish the cellular adaptations within the LHb following a chronic non-painful aversive experience and during a critical developmental period. I showed that exposure to maternal separation in childhood (MS mice) also leads to depressive like symptoms together with a hyperexcitability of LHb neurons. This stress-driven increase in LHb activity was causally linked to a decrease of the GABABR-GIRK signaling. Moreover, using diverse reversal strategies such as chemogenetics or a therapeutically-relevant intervention such as Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS), we could selectively decrease LHb neuronal activity and consequently ameliorate the depressive like symptoms, suggesting a causal link between these two phenotypes.Altogether, the work presented in this thesis suggests that LHb neuronal hyperexcitability could represent a common substrate necessary for the expression of certain aspects of the depressive like state and further supports its relevance as a potential target in the treatment of this disorder.
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Anna Tchenio. Reversal strategies within the lateral habenula to ameliorate depressive-like behaviors. Neurons and Cognition [q-bio.NC]. Université Pierre et Marie Curie - Paris VI, 2017. English. ⟨NNT : 2017PA066301⟩. ⟨tel-01722820⟩

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