Browsing Theses and Dissertations by Authors
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: Insights from Cat Hair and CatfishNalloor, Rebecca Ipe; Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology (2012-06)Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that develops in some, but not all, individuals following a traumatic experience. Established PTSD is difficult to treat, therefore prevention and early intervention is important to reduce prevalence. Identifying individuals susceptible to developing PTSD before trauma exposure and investigating neurophysiological processes that contribute to the disease will help develop better treatment and preventive methods. Limitations to such investigations in humans make animal models a necessary tool. Like humans, only some rats develop PTSD-like behavior after trauma but pre-trauma identification of these rats was not possible until now. We were able to reliably predict before trauma exposure which rats are susceptible (Susceptible) or resistant (Resistant) to developing two PTSD-like symptoms: impaired fear extinction and lasting elevation in acoustic startle responses. We hypothesized that Susceptible rats will have pre-existing alterations in plasticity-related responses in the hippocampus, a brain region whose altered size and function is associated with PTSD diagnosis. We also hypothesized that Susceptible rats will differ from Resistant rats in the acquisition of a traumatic event and tested this using Arc/H1a catFISH, a cellular imaging technique that detects neurons expressing plasticity-related immediate early genes (IEGs) during behavior. We found that, in Resistant rats a large proportion of the same dorsal CA1 (dCA1) neurons expressed IEGs during two identical explorations of the experimental box. This suggests that dCA1 responds to identical events with high fidelity. In Susceptible rats, however, different neuronal ensembles expressed IEGs during identical explorations suggesting a lack of fidelity in hippocampal response to identical events. In addition fewer ventral CA3 neurons expressed IEGs during the second exploration in Susceptible as compared to Resistant rats. We also examined the basolateral nucleus of the amygdala, but found no difference in IEG expression. Contrary to hypothesis, differences between Susceptible and Resistant rats during a foot shock paired exploration (traumatic event) were not pronounced. These findings show that rats susceptible to developing PTSD-like symptoms can be behaviorally identified and have altered hippocampal plasticity-related responses prior to the trauma. This study provides a frame-work for the investigation and remediation of susceptibilities.