Post-Exposure Sleep Deprivation Facilitates Correctly Timed Interactions Between Glucocorticoid and Adrenergic Systems, which Attenuate Traumatic Stress Responses Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Reliable evidence supports the role of sleep in learning and memory processes. In rodents, sleep deprivation (SD) negatively affects consolidation of hippocampus-dependent memories. As memory is integral to post-traumatic stress symptoms, the effects of post-exposure SD on various aspect of the response to stress in a controlled, prospective animal model of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were evaluated. Rats were deprived of sleep for 6 h throughout the first resting phase after predator scent stress exposure. Behaviors in the elevated plus-maze and acoustic startle response tests were assessed 7 days later, and served for classification into behavioral response groups. Freezing response to a trauma reminder was assessed on day 8. Urine samples were collected daily for corticosterone levels, and heart rate (HR) was also measured. Finally, the impact of manipulating the hypothalamus–pituitary–adrenal axis and adrenergic activity before SD was assessed. Mifepristone (MIFE) and epinephrine (EPI) were administered systemically 10-min post-stress exposure and behavioral responses and response to trauma reminder were measured on days 7–8. Hippocampal expression of glucocorticoid receptors (GRs) and morphological assessment of arborization and dendritic spines were subsequently evaluated. Post-exposure SD effectively ameliorated long-term, stress-induced, PTSD-like behavioral disruptions, reduced trauma reminder freezing responses, and decreased hippocampal expression of GR compared with exposed-untreated controls. Although urine corticosterone levels were significantly elevated 1 h after SD and the HR was attenuated, antagonizing GRs with MIFE or stimulation of adrenergic activity with EPI effectively abolished the effect of SD. MIFE- and EPI-treated animals clearly demonstrated significantly lower total dendritic length, fewer branches and lower spine density along dentate gyrus dendrites with increased levels of GR expression 8 days after exposure, as compared with exposed-SD animals. Intentional prevention of sleep in the early aftermath of stress exposure may well be beneficial in attenuating traumatic stress-related sequelae. Post-exposure SD may disrupt the consolidation of aversive or fearful memories by facilitating correctly timed interactions between glucocorticoid and adrenergic systems.

publication date

  • June 20, 2012