Stress-related disorders display differences at multiple levels according to sex. While most studies have been conducted in male rodents, less is known about comparable outcomes in females. In this study, we found that the chronic restraint stress model (2.5 h/day for 14 days) triggers different somatic responses in male and female adult rats. Chronic restraint produced a loss in sucrose preference and novel location preference in male rats. However, chronic restraint failed to produce loss of sucrose preference in females, while it improved spatial performance. We then characterized the molecular responses associated with these behaviors in the hippocampus, comparing the dorsal and ventral poles. Notably, sex- and hippocampal pole-specific transcriptional signatures were observed, along with a significant concordance between the female ventral and male dorsal profiles. Functional enrichment analysis revealed both shared and specific terms associated with each pole and sex. By looking into signaling pathways that were associated with these terms, we found an ample array of sex differences in the dorsal and, to a lesser extent, in the ventral hippocampus. These differences were mainly present in synaptic TrkB signaling, Akt pathway, and glutamatergic receptors. Unexpectedly, the effects of stress on these pathways were rather minimal and mostly dissociated from the sex-specific behavioral outcomes. Our study suggests that female rats are resilient and males susceptible to the restraint stress exposure in the sucrose preference and object location tests, while the activity of canonical signaling pathways is primarily determined by sex rather than stress in the dorsal and ventral hippocampus.
- Chronic restraint stress
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience