Social trauma engages lateral septum circuitry to occlude social reward

Long Li, Romain Durand-de Cuttoli, Antonio V. Aubry, C. Joseph Burnett, Flurin Cathomas, Lyonna F. Parise, Kenny L. Chan, Carole Morel, Chongzhen Yuan, Yusuke Shimo, Hsiao yun Lin, Jun Wang, Scott J. Russo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


In humans, traumatic social experiences can contribute to psychiatric disorders1. It is suggested that social trauma impairs brain reward function such that social behaviour is no longer rewarding, leading to severe social avoidance2,3. In rodents, the chronic social defeat stress (CSDS) model has been used to understand the neurobiology underlying stress susceptibility versus resilience following social trauma, yet little is known regarding its impact on social reward4,5. Here we show that, following CSDS, a subset of male and female mice, termed susceptible (SUS), avoid social interaction with non-aggressive, same-sex juvenile C57BL/6J mice and do not develop context-dependent social reward following encounters with them. Non-social stressors have no effect on social reward in either sex. Next, using whole-brain Fos mapping, in vivo Ca2+ imaging and whole-cell recordings, we identified a population of stress/threat-responsive lateral septum neurotensin (NTLS) neurons that are activated by juvenile social interactions only in SUS mice, but not in resilient or unstressed control mice. Optogenetic or chemogenetic manipulation of NTLS neurons and their downstream connections modulates social interaction and social reward. Together, these data suggest that previously rewarding social targets are possibly perceived as social threats in SUS mice, resulting from hyperactive NTLS neurons that occlude social reward processing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)696-703
Number of pages8
Issue number7945
StatePublished - 26 Jan 2023


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