Environmental Enrichment Produces a Behavioral Phenotype Mediated by Low Cyclic Adenosine Monophosphate Response Element Binding (CREB) Activity in the Nucleus Accumbens

Thomas A. Green, Imran N. Alibhai, C. Nathaniel Roybal, Catharine A. Winstanley, David E.H. Theobald, Shari G. Birnbaum, Ami R. Graham, Stephen Unterberg, Danielle L. Graham, Vincent Vialou, Caroline E. Bass, Ernest F. Terwilliger, Michael T. Bardo, Eric J. Nestler

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Abstract

Background: Previous research has shown that rats reared in an enriched condition (EC) are more sensitive to the acute effects of amphetamine than rats reared in an isolated condition (IC); yet, EC rats self-administer less amphetamine than IC rats. The present study used cocaine to further explore this environmental enrichment behavioral phenotype, as well as the underlying molecular mechanisms involved. Methods: Enriched condition and IC rats were studied in a broad battery of behavioral tests, including cocaine conditioned place preference (CPP) and self-administration and several measures of anxiety- and depression-related behavior. The involvement of the transcription factor, cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) response element binding protein (CREB), in mediating EC versus IC differences was investigated. Results: Enriched condition rats exhibited less cocaine self-administration, despite showing enhanced cocaine CPP. Enriched condition rats also displayed less depression-like behavior but higher levels of anxiety-like behavior. This behavioral phenotype is consistent with low CREB activity in the nucleus accumbens, a key brain reward region. Indeed, EC rats have less phospho-CREB (the transcriptionally active form of the protein) in the nucleus accumbens than IC rats, and a selective knockdown of CREB in this brain region of normally reared rats, by use of a novel viral vector expressing a short hairpin RNA (shRNA) directed against CREB, reproduced the EC behavioral phenotype. Conclusions: These studies identify a potential molecular mechanism for how rearing environment-a nonpharmacological, nonsurgical manipulation-can modify a wide range of complex emotional behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)28-35
Number of pages8
JournalBiological Psychiatry
Volume67
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010
Externally publishedYes

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Keywords

  • Addiction
  • anxiety
  • craving
  • depression
  • differential rearing
  • drug abuse
  • drug addiction
  • forced swim test
  • incentive sensitization
  • relapse
  • salience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry

Cite this

Green, T. A., Alibhai, I. N., Roybal, C. N., Winstanley, C. A., Theobald, D. E. H., Birnbaum, S. G., Graham, A. R., Unterberg, S., Graham, D. L., Vialou, V., Bass, C. E., Terwilliger, E. F., Bardo, M. T., & Nestler, E. J. (2010). Environmental Enrichment Produces a Behavioral Phenotype Mediated by Low Cyclic Adenosine Monophosphate Response Element Binding (CREB) Activity in the Nucleus Accumbens. Biological Psychiatry, 67(1), 28-35. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2009.06.022