• Journal Article

Effects of social isolation on mRNA expression for corticotrophin-releasing hormone receptors in prairie voles


Pournajafi-Nazarloo, H., Partoo, L., Yee, J., Stevenson, J., Sanzenbacher, L., Kenkel, W., ... Carter Porges, C. (2011). Effects of social isolation on mRNA expression for corticotrophin-releasing hormone receptors in prairie voles. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 36(6), 780-789. DOI: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2010.10.015


Previous studies have demonstrated that various type of stressors modulate messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) for type 1 corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) receptor (CRH-R1 mRNA) and type 2 CRH receptor (CRH-R2 mRNA). The purpose of this study was to explore the effect of social isolation stress of varying durations on the CRH, CRH-R1 and CRH-R2 mRNAs expression in the hypothalamus, hippocampus and pituitary of socially monogamous female and male prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster). Isolation for 1 h (single isolation) or 1 h of isolation every day for 4 weeks (repeated isolation) was followed by a significant increase in plasma corticosterone levels. Single or repeated isolation increased hypothalamic CRH mRNA expression, but no changes in CRH-R1 mRNA in the hypothalamus were observed. Continuous isolation for 4 weeks (chronic isolation) showed no effect on hypothalamic CRH or CRH-R1 mRNAs in female or male animals. However, hypothalamic CRH-R2 mRNA was significantly reduced in votes exposed to chronic isolation. Single or repeated isolation, but not chronic isolation, significantly increased CRH-R1 mRNA and decreased CRH-R2 mRNA in the pituitary. Despite elevated CRH mRNA expression, CRH-R1 and CRH-R2 mRNAs were not modulated in the hippocampus following single or repeated isolation. Although, chronic isolation did not affect hippocampal CRH or CRH-R1 mRNAs, it did increase CRH-R2 mRNA expression in females and males. The results of the present study in prairie voles suggest that social isolation has receptor subtype and species-specific consequences for the modulation of gene expression for CRH and its receptors in brain and pituitary. Previous studies have revealed a female-biased increase in oxytocin in response to chronic isolation; however, we did not find a sex difference in CRH or its receptors following single, repeated or chronic social isolation, suggesting that sexually dimorphic processes beyond the CRH system, possibly involving vasopressin, might explain this difference. Published by Elsevier Ltd