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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2016, Article ID 7215684, 12 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2016/7215684
Research Article

Acute Psychological Stress Modulates the Expression of Enzymes Involved in the Kynurenine Pathway throughout Corticolimbic Circuits in Adult Male Rats

1Hotchkiss Brain Institute, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, 3330 Hospital Drive NW, Calgary, AB, Canada T2N 4N1
2Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research and Education, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, 3330 Hospital Drive NW, Calgary, AB, Canada T2N 4N1
3Department of Neuroscience, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, 3330 Hospital Drive NW, Calgary, AB, Canada T2N 4N1
4Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, 3330 Hospital Drive NW, Calgary, AB, Canada T2N 4N1
5Department of Psychiatry, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, 3330 Hospital Drive NW, Calgary, AB, Canada T2N 4N1

Received 6 July 2015; Revised 26 August 2015; Accepted 2 September 2015

Academic Editor: Jordan Marrocco

Copyright © 2016 Haley A. Vecchiarelli et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Tryptophan is an essential dietary amino acid that is necessary for protein synthesis, but also serves as the precursor for serotonin. However, in addition to these biological functions, tryptophan also serves as a precursor for the kynurenine pathway, which has neurotoxic (quinolinic acid) and neuroprotective (kynurenic acid) metabolites. Glucocorticoid hormones and inflammatory mediators, both of which are increased by stress, have been shown to bias tryptophan along the kynurenine pathway and away from serotonin synthesis; however, to date, there is no published data regarding the effects of stress on enzymes regulating the kynurenine pathway in a regional manner throughout the brain. Herein, we examined the effects of an acute psychological stress (120 min restraint) on gene expression patterns of enzymes along the kynurenine pathway over a protracted time-course (1–24 h post-stress termination) within the amygdala, hippocampus, hypothalamus, and medial prefrontal cortex. Time-dependent changes in differential enzymes along the kynurenine metabolism pathway, particularly those involved in the production of quinolinic acid, were found within the amygdala, hypothalamus, and medial prefrontal cortex, with no changes seen in the hippocampus. These regional differences acutely may provide mechanistic insight into processes that become dysregulated chronically in stress-associated disorders.