Orexin signaling during social defeat stress influences subsequent social interaction behaviour and recognition memory.

Research paper by Darrell D Eacret, Laura A LA Grafe, Jane J Dobkin, Anthony L AL Gotter, John J JJ Rengerb, Christopher J CJ Winrow, Seema S Bhatnagar

Indexed on: 15 Jun '18Published on: 15 Jun '18Published in: Behavioural Brain Research


Orexins are neuropeptides synthesized in the lateral hypothalamus that influence arousal, feeding, reward pathways, and the response to stress. However, the role of orexins in repeated stress is not fully characterized. Here, we examined how orexins and their receptors contribute to the coping response during repeated social defeat and subsequent anxiety-like and memory-related behaviors. Specifically, we used Designer Receptors Exclusively Activated by Designer Drugs (DREADDs) to stimulate orexins prior to each of five consecutive days of social defeat stress in adult male rats. Additionally, we determined the role of the orexin 2 receptor in these behaviors by using a selective orexin 2 receptor antagonist (MK-1064) administered prior to each social defeat. Following the 5 day social defeat conditioning period, rats were evaluated in social interaction and novel object recognition paradigms to assess anxiety-like behavior and recognition memory, respectively. Activation of orexin neurons by DREADDs prior to each social defeat decreased the average latency to become defeated across 5 days, indicative of a passive coping strategy that we have previously linked to a stress vulnerable phenotype. Moreover, stimulation of orexin signaling during defeat conditioning decreased subsequent social interaction and performance in the novel object recognition test indicating increased subsequent anxiety-like behavior and reduced working memory. Blocking the orexin 2 receptor during repeated defeat did not alter these effects. Together, our results suggest that orexin neuron activation produces a passive coping phenotype during social defeat leading to subsequent anxiety-like behaviors and memory deficits. Copyright © 2018. Published by Elsevier B.V.