Traumatic events during childhood/early adolescence can cause long-lasting physiological and behavioral changes with increasing risk for psychiatric conditions including psychosis. Genetic factors and trauma (and their type, degree of repetition, time of occurrence) are believed to influence how traumatic experiences affect an individual. Here, we compared long-lasting behavioral effects of repeated social defeat stress (SD) applied during either peripuberty or late adolescence in adult male WT and Gclm-KO mice, a model of redox dysregulation relevant to schizophrenia. As SD disrupts redox homeostasis and causes oxidative stress, we hypothesized that KO mice would be particularly vulnerable to such stress. We first found that peripubertal and late adolescent SD led to different behavioral outcomes. Peripubertal SD induced anxiety-like behavior in anxiogenic environments, potentiated startle reflex, and increased sensitivity to the NMDA-receptor antagonist, MK-801. In contrast, late adolescent SD led to increased exploration in novel environments. Second, the long-lasting impact of peripubertal but not late adolescent SD differed in KO and WT mice. Peripubertal SD increased anxiety-like behavior in anxiogenic environments and MK-801-sensitivity mostly in KO mice, while it increased startle reflex in WT mice. These suggest that a redox dysregulation during peripuberty interacts with SD to remodel the trajectory of brain maturation, but does not play a significant role during later SD. As peripubertal SD induced persisting anxiety- and fear-related behaviors in male mice, we then investigated anxiety in a cohort of 89 early psychosis male patients for whom we had information about past abuse and clinical assessment during the first year of psychosis. We found that a first exposure to physical/sexual abuse (analogous to SD) before age 12, but not after, was associated with higher anxiety at 6-12 months after psychosis onset. This supports that childhood/peripuberty is a vulnerable period during which physical/sexual abuse in males has wide and long-lasting consequences.
© 2022. The Author(s).