Histone deacetylase 6 gates the synaptic action of acute stress in prefrontal cortex

J Physiol. 2012 Apr 1;590(7):1535-46. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2011.224907. Epub 2012 Feb 13.


The prefrontal cortex (PFC), a region responsible for high-order cognitive functions, such as decision-making, attention and working memory, is highly influenced by stress and corticosteroid stress hormones. Recently it has been shown that acute stress affects PFC functions by potentiating glutamatergic transmission via a mechanism dependent on glucocorticoid receptor (GR) and its downstream target, serum and glucocorticoid-inducible kinase (SGK). To identify the key regulators of stress responses, we examined the role of histone deacetylase 6 (HDAC6), a unique member of the HDAC family that could regulate the GR chaperone protein heat shock protein 90 (HSP90), in the synaptic action of acute stress in PFC. We found that HDAC6 inhibition or knockdown blocked the enhancement of glutamatergic transmission and glutamate receptor trafficking by acute stress in vivo or corticosterone treatment in vitro. In addition, HDAC6 inhibition blocked the up-regulation of SGK in animals exposed to acute stress. HSP90 inhibition or knockdown produced a similar blockade of the acute stress-induced enhancement of glutamatergic signalling. These findings have identified HDAC6 as a key molecule gating the effects of acute stress on synaptic functions in the PFC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Corticosterone / pharmacology
  • Embryo, Mammalian
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials
  • Histone Deacetylase 6
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Histone Deacetylases / physiology*
  • Neurons
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, Glutamate / physiology
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology*
  • Swimming
  • Synapses / physiology*


  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors
  • Receptors, Glutamate
  • HDAC6 protein, rat
  • Histone Deacetylase 6
  • Histone Deacetylases
  • Corticosterone