Social Defeat Stress During Early Adolescence Confers Resilience Against a Single Episode of Prolonged Stress in Adult Rats.


Mancini GF(1)(2), Marchetta E(1)(2), Pignani I(1), Trezza V(3), Campolongo P(1)(2).
Author information:
(1)Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Sapienza University of Rome, 00185 Rome, Italy.
(2)Neurobiology of Behavior Laboratory, Santa Lucia Foundation, 00143 Rome, Italy.
(3)Department of Science, Section of Biomedical Sciences and Technologies, University Roma Tre, 00146 Rome, Italy.


Early-life adverse experiences (first hit) lead to coping strategies that may confer resilience or vulnerability to later experienced stressful events (second hit) and the subsequent development of stress-related psychopathologies. Here, we investigated whether exposure to two stressors at different stages in life has long-term effects on emotional and cognitive capabilities, and whether the interaction between the two stressors influences stress resilience. Male rats were subjected to social defeat stress (SDS, first hit) in adolescence and to a single episode of prolonged stress (SPS, second hit) in adulthood. Behavioral outcomes, hippocampal expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, and plasma corticosterone levels were tested in adulthood. Rats exposed to both stressors exhibited resilience against the development of stress-induced alterations in emotional behaviors and spatial memory, but vulnerability to cued fear memory dysfunction. Rats subjected to both stressors demonstrated resilience against the SDS-induced alterations in hippocampal brain-derived neurotrophic factor expression and plasma corticosterone levels. SPS alone altered locomotion and spatial memory retention; these effects were absent in SDS-exposed rats later exposed to SPS. Our findings reveal that exposure to social stress during early adolescence influences the ability to cope with a second challenge experienced later in life.