Science Inventory

Influence of Mild Chronic Stress and Social Isolation on Acute Ozone-Induced Alterations in Stress Biomarkers and Brain-Region-Specific Gene Expression in Male Wistar–Kyoto Rats


Valdez, M., D. Freeborn, A. Henriquez, S. Snow, J. Valdez, T. Jackson, P. Kodavanti, AND U. Kodavanti. Influence of Mild Chronic Stress and Social Isolation on Acute Ozone-Induced Alterations in Stress Biomarkers and Brain-Region-Specific Gene Expression in Male Wistar–Kyoto Rats. Antioxidants. MDPI, Basel, Switzerland, 12(11):1964, (2023).


Psychosocially-stressed individuals have exacerbated responses to air pollution exposure. This study using an animal model of preexistent chronic stress and social isolation, we show that animals socially isolated have systemic inflammation and increased levels of stress hormones. When these animals are exposed acutely to ozone, these stress effects are exacerbated along with changes in gene expression across various brain regions. 


Abstract: Individuals with psychosocial stress often experience an exaggerated response to air pollutants. Ozone (O3 ) exposure has been associated with the activation of the neuroendocrine stress-response system. We hypothesized that preexistent mild chronic stress plus social isolation (CS), or social isolation (SI) alone, would exacerbate the acute effects of O3 exposure on the circulating adrenal-derived stress hormones, and the expression of the genes regulating glucocorticoid stress signaling via an altered stress adaptation in a brain-region-specific manner. Male Wistar–Kyoto rats (5 weeks old) were socially isolated, plus were subjected to either CS (noise, confinement, fear, uncomfortable living, hectic activity, and single housing), SI (single housing only, restricted handling and no enrichment) or no stress (NS; double housing, frequent handling and enrichment provided) for 8 weeks. The rats were then exposed to either air or O3 (0.8 ppm for 4 h), and the samples were collected immediately after. The indicators of sympathetic and hypothalamic–pituitary axis (HPA) activation (i.e., epinephrine, corticosterone, and lymphopenia) increased with O3 exposure, but there were no effects from CS or SI, except for the depletion of serum BDNF. CS and SI revealed small changes in brain-region-specific glucocorticoid-signaling-associated markers of gene expression in the air-exposed rats (hypothalamic Nr3c1, Nr3c2 Hsp90aa1, Hspa4 and Cnr1 inhibition in SI; hippocampal HSP90aa1 increase in SI; and inhibition of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) Cnr1 in CS). Gene expression across all brain regions was altered by O3 , reflective of glucocorticoid signaling effects, such as Fkbp5 in NS, CS and SI. The SI effects on Fkbp5 were greatest for SI in BNST. O3 increased Cnr2 expression in the hypothalamus and olfactory bulbs of the NS and SI groups. O3, in all stress conditions, generally inhibited the expression of Nr3c1 in all brain regions, Nr3c2 in the hippocampus and hypothalamus and Bdnf in the hippocampus. SI, in general, showed slightly greater O3 -induced changes when compared to NS and CS. Serum metabolomics revealed increased sphingomyelins in the air-exposed SI and O3 -exposed NS, with underlying SI dampening some of the O3 -induced changes. These results suggest a potential link between preexistent SI and acute O3 -induced increases in the circulating adrenal-derived stress hormones and brain-region-specific gene expression changes in glucocorticoid signaling, which may partly underlie the stress dynamic in those with long-term SI. 

Record Details:

Product Published Date:11/03/2023
Record Last Revised:11/17/2023
OMB Category:Other
Record ID: 359510