Acute deep brain stimulation in the thalamic reticular nucleus protects against acute stress and modulates initial events of adult hippocampal neurogenesis

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Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is used as an alternative therapeutic procedure for pharmacoresistant psychiatric disorders. Recently the thalamic reticular nucleus (TRN) gained attention due to the description of a novel pathway from the amygdala to this nucleus suggesting that may be differentially disrupted in mood disorders. The limbic system is implicated in the regulation of these disorders that are accompanied by neuroplastic changes. The hippocampus is highly plastic and shows the generation of new neurons, process affected by stress but positively regulated by antidepressant drugs. We explored the impact of applying acute DBS to the TRN (DBS-TRN) in male Wistar rats exposed to acute stress caused by the forced-swim Porsolt’s test (FST) and on initial events of hippocampal neurogenesis. After the first session of forced-swim, rats were randomly subdivided in a DBS-TRN and a Sham group. Stimulated rats received 10 min of DBS, thus the depressant-like behavior reflected as immobility was evaluated in the second session of forced-swim. Locomotricity was evaluated in the open field test. Cell proliferation and doublecortin-associated cells were quantified in the hippocampus of other cohorts of rats. No effects of electrode implantation were found in locomotricity. Acute DBS-TRN reduced immobility in comparison to the Sham group (p < 0.001). DBS-TRN increased cell proliferation (Ki67 or BrdU-positive cells; p = 0.02, p = 0.02) and the number of doublecortin-cells compared to the Sham group (p < 0.02). Similar effects were found in rats previously exposed to the first session of forced-swim. Our data could suggest that TRN brain region may be a promising target for DBS to treat intractable depression.

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