Brain Injury Effects On Neuronal Activation And Synaptic Transmission In The Basolateral Amygdala Of Adult Male And Female Wistar Rats

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Journal of Neurotrauma


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is defined as brain damage produced by an external mechanical force that leads to behavioral, cognitive, and psychiatric sequelae. The basolateral amygdala (BLA) is involved in emotional regulation, and its function and morphology are altered following TBI. Little is known about potential sex-specific effects of TBI on BLA neuronal function, but it is critical for the field to identify potential sex differences in TBI effects on brain and behavior. Here, we hypothesized that TBI would produce sex-specific acute (1 h) effects on BLA neuronal activation, excitability, and synaptic transmission in adult male and female rats. Forty-nine Wistar rats (n = 23 males and 26 females) were randomized to TBI (using lateral fluid percussion) or Sham groups in two separate studies. Study 1 used in situ hybridization (i.e., RNAscope) to measure BLA expression of c-fos (a marker of cell activation), vGlut, and vGat (markers of glutamatergic and GABAergic neurons, respectively) messenger RNA (mRNA). Study 2 used slice electrophysiology to measure intrinsic excitability and excitatory/inhibitory synaptic transmission in putative pyramidal neurons in the BLA. Physiological measures of injury severity were collected from all animals. Our results show that females exhibit increased apnea duration and reduced respiratory rate post-TBI relative to males. In male and female rats, TBI increased c-fos expression in BLA glutamatergic cells but not in BLA GABAergic cells, and TBI increased firing rate in BLA pyramidal neurons. Further, TBI increased spontaneous excitatory and inhibitory postsynaptic current (sEPSC and sIPSC) amplitude in BLA neurons of females relative to all other groups. TBI increased sEPSC frequency in BLA neurons of females relative to males but did not alter sIPSC frequency. In summary, lateral fluid percussion produced different physiological responses in male and female rats, as well as sex-specific alterations in BLA neuronal activation, excitability, and synaptic transmission 1 h after injury.

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