Region-specific myelin differences define behavioral consequences of chronic social defeat stress in mice

Valentina Bonnefil, Karen Dietz, Mario Amatruda, Maureen Wentling, Antonio V. Aubry, Jeffrey L. Dupree, Gary Temple, Hye Jin Park, Nesha S. Burghardt, Patrizia Casaccia, Jia Liu

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62 Scopus citations


Exposure to stress increases the risk of developing mood disorders. While a subset of individuals displays vulnerability to stress, others remain resilient, but the molecular basis for these behavioral differences is not well understood. Using a model of chronic social defeat stress, we identified region-specific differences in myelination between mice that displayed social avoidance behavior (‘susceptible’) and those who escaped the deleterious effect to stress (‘resilient’). Myelin protein content in the nucleus accumbens was reduced in all mice exposed to stress, whereas decreased myelin thickness and internodal length were detected only in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) of susceptible mice, with fewer mature oligodendrocytes and decreased heterochromatic histone marks. Focal demyelination in the mPFC was sufficient to decrease social preference, which was restored following new myelin formation. Together these data highlight the functional role of mPFC myelination as critical determinant of the avoidance response to traumatic social experiences.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere40855
StatePublished - Aug 2019
Externally publishedYes


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