Chemogenetic Inhibition of Infralimbic Prefrontal Cortex GABAergic Parvalbumin Interneurons Attenuates the Impact of Chronic Stress in Male Mice

eNeuro. 2020 Oct 28;7(5):ENEURO.0423-19.2020. doi: 10.1523/ENEURO.0423-19.2020. Print Sep/Oct 2020.


Hypofunction of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) contributes to stress-related neuropsychiatric illnesses. Mechanisms leading to prefrontal hypoactivity remain to be determined. Prior evidence suggests that chronic stress leads to an increase in activity of parvalbumin (PV) expressing GABAergic interneurons (INs) in the PFC. The purpose of the study was to determine whether reducing PV IN activity in the Infralimbic (IL) PFC would prevent stress-related phenotypes. We used a chemogenetic approach to inhibit IL PFC PV INs during stress. Mice were first tested in the tail suspension test (TST) to determine the impact of PV IN inhibition on behavioral responses to acute stress. The long-term impact of PV IN inhibition during a modified chronic variable stress (CVS) was tested in the forced swim test (FST). Acute PV IN inhibition reduced active (struggling) and increased passive coping behaviors (immobility) in the TST. In contrast, inhibition of PV INs during CVS increased active and reduced passive coping behaviors in the FST. Moreover, chronic inhibition of PV INs attenuated CVS-induced changes in Fos expression in the prelimbic cortex (PrL), basolateral amygdala (BLA), and ventrolateral periaqueductal gray (vlPAG) and also attenuated adrenal hypertrophy and body weight loss associated with chronic stress. Our results suggest differential roles of PV INs in acute versus chronic stress, indicative of distinct biological mechanisms underlying acute versus chronic stress responses. Our results also indicate a role for PV INs in driving chronic stress adaptation and support literature evidence suggesting cortical GABAergic INs as a therapeutic target in stress-related illnesses.

Keywords: DREADDs; GABA; interneurons; parvalbumin; prefrontal cortex; stress coping.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basolateral Nuclear Complex* / metabolism
  • Cerebral Cortex / metabolism
  • Interneurons* / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Parvalbumins* / metabolism
  • Prefrontal Cortex / metabolism
  • Stress, Physiological*


  • Parvalbumins