The development and exacerbation of depression and anxiety are associated with exposure to repeated psychosocial stress. Stress is known to affect the bidirectional communication between the nervous and immune systems leading to elevated levels of stress mediators including glucocorticoids (GCs) and catecholamines and increased trafficking of proinflammatory immune cells. Animal models, like the repeated social defeat (RSD) paradigm, were developed to explore this connection between stress and affective disorders. RSD induces activation of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activation, increases bone marrow production and egress of primed, GC-insensitive monocytes, and stimulates the trafficking of these cells to tissues including the spleen, lung, and brain. Recently, the observation that these monocytes have the ability to traffic to the brain perivascular spaces and parenchyma have provided mechanisms by which these peripheral cells may contribute to the prolonged anxiety-like behavior associated with RSD. The data that have been amassed from the RSD paradigm and others recapitulate many of the behavioral and immunological phenotypes associated with human anxiety disorders and may serve to elucidate potential avenues of treatment for these disorders. Here, we will discuss novel and key data that will present an overview of the neuroendocrine, immunological and behavioral responses to social stressors.
Keywords: anxiety-like behavior; cell trafficking; inflammation; macrophages; microglia; repeated social defeat.
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