The claustrum-prelimbic cortex circuit through dynorphin/κ-opioid receptor signaling underlies depression-like behaviors associated with social stress etiology

Nat Commun. 2023 Nov 30;14(1):7903. doi: 10.1038/s41467-023-43636-x.


Ample evidence has suggested the stress etiology of depression, but the underlying mechanism is not fully understood yet. Here, we report that chronic social defeat stress (CSDS) attenuates the excitatory output of the claustrum (CLA) to the prelimbic cortex (PL) through the dynorphin/κ-opioid receptor (KOR) signaling, being critical for depression-related behaviors in male mice. The CSDS preferentially impairs the excitatory output from the CLA onto the parvalbumin (PV) of the PL, leading to PL micronetwork dysfunction by disinhibiting pyramidal neurons (PNs). Optogenetic activation or inhibition of this circuit suppresses or promotes depressive-like behaviors, which is reversed by chemogenetic inhibition or activation of the PV neurons. Notably, manipulating the dynorphin/KOR signaling in the CLA-PL projecting terminals controls depressive-like behaviors that is suppressed or promoted by optogenetic activation or inhibition of CLA-PL circuit. Thus, this study reveals both mechanism of the stress etiology of depression and possibly therapeutic interventions by targeting CLA-PL circuit.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Claustrum* / metabolism
  • Depression / etiology
  • Dynorphins
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Receptors, Opioid, kappa* / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / physiology


  • Receptors, Opioid, kappa
  • Dynorphins