Genetic background influences the responsiveness to stress and plays a crucial role in the pathophysiology of depression. In an animal model of depression, Flinders Sensitive Line rats, and Sprague Dawley controls we analyzed if 7 weeks of social isolation of adult animals affect the number of newly proliferated cells in the dentate gyrus or mRNAs of Neuropeptide Y (NPY), the NPY-Y1 receptor, nociceptin, BDNF, and the serotonin 5HT1A and 5HT2A receptors, which are molecules involved in hippocampal plasticity. Since depressive illness more frequently affects women than men, and females seem to respond differently to stressful experiences than males, female rats were used in this study. Bromodeoxyuridine, which is a thymidin analogue that is incorporated into the DNA of newly formed cells, was administered during 9 days to even out the effects of hormonal fluctuations. Social isolation increased the number of newly proliferated Bromodeoxyuridine-immunoreactive cells in the Flinders Sensitive Line rats, whereas it had no impact on the number of cells in the Sprague Dawley strain. Group housed Sprague Dawley rats had a higher expression of BDNF, NPY, and the serotonin 5HT2A receptor mRNA than "depressed" Flinders Sensitive Line. Social isolation downregulated these molecules in Sprague Dawley but not in Flinders Sensitive Line rats thereby eliminating the differences between the two strains. We demonstrate strain and gender specific responses to stress induced regulation of factors important for hippocampal plasticity.
(c) 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.