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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2017, Article ID 9382797, 10 pages
Research Article

Neuroplastic Correlates in the mPFC Underlying the Impairment of Stress-Coping Ability and Cognitive Flexibility in Adult Rats Exposed to Chronic Mild Stress during Adolescence

1CAS Key Laboratory of Mental Health, Institute of Psychology, Beijing, China
2The University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
3School of Nursing, Binzhou Medical University, Yantai, China
4School of Psychological and Cognitive Sciences, Beijing Key Laboratory of Behavior and Mental Health, Peking University, Beijing, China

Correspondence should be addressed to Weiwen Wang;

Received 17 October 2016; Accepted 18 December 2016; Published 15 January 2017

Academic Editor: Fushun Wang

Copyright © 2017 Yu Zhang 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.


Using a valid chronic mild stress (CMS) model of depression, we found that adolescent (postnatal days [PND] 28–41) CMS induced transient alterations in anhedonia that did not persist into adulthood after a 3-week recovery period. Previously stressed adult rats exhibited more immobility/despair behaviors in the forced swimming test and a greater number of trials to reach criterion in the set-shifting task, suggesting the impaired ability to cope with stressors and the cognitive flexibility that allows adaptation to dynamic environments during adulthood. In addition, adult rat exposure to adolescent CMS had a relatively inhibited activation in ERK signaling and downstream protein expression of phosphorylated cAMP-response element-binding protein (CREB) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the medial prefrontal cortex. Further correlation analysis demonstrated that immobility and set-shifting performance were positively correlated with the inhibition of ERK signaling. These results indicated adolescent CMS can be used as an effective stressor to model an increased predisposition to adult depression.