Glycogen synthase kinase 3 beta alters anxiety-, depression-, and addiction-related behaviors and neuronal activity in the nucleus accumbens shell
Psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, depression and addiction are often comorbid brain pathologies thought to share common mechanistic biology. As part of the cortico-limbic circuit, the nucleus accumbens shell (NAcSh) plays a fundamental role in integrating information in the circuit, such that modulation of NAcSh circuitry alters anxiety, depression, and addiction-related behaviors. Intracellular kinase cascades in the NAcSh have proven important mediators of behavior. To investigate glycogen-synthase kinase 3 (GSK3) beta signaling in the NAcSh in vivo we knocked down GSK3beta expression with a novel adeno-associated viral vector (AAV2) and assessed changes in anxiety- and depression-like behavior and cocaine self-administration in GSK3beta knockdown rats. GSK3beta knockdown reduced anxiety-like behavior while increasing depression-like behavior and cocaine self-administration. Correlative electrophysiological recordings in acute brain slices were used to assess the effect of AAV-shGSK3beta on spontaneous firing and intrinsic excitability of tonically active interneurons (TANs), cells required for input and output signal integration in the NAcSh and for processing reward-related behaviors. Loose-patch recordings showed that TANs transduced by AAV-shGSK3beta exhibited reduction in tonic firing and increased spike half width. When assessed by whole-cell patch clamp recordings these changes were mirrored by reduction in action potential firing and accompanied by decreased hyperpolarization-induced depolarizing sag potentials, increased action potential current threshold, and decreased maximum rise time. These results suggest that silencing of GSK3beta in the NAcSh increases depression- and addiction-related behavior, possibly by decreasing intrinsic excitability of TANs. However, this study does not rule out contributions from other neuronal sub-types.