Sex-specific effects of chronic stress on intestinal health and depression-like behaviours

Authors: Doney, Ellen
Advisor: Ménard, Caroline
Abstract: Major depressive disorder (MDD) is the leading cause of disability worldwide. Still, common antidepressants are ineffective in 30-50% of treated patients, highlighting that biological mechanisms remain to be elucidated. MDD has high comorbidity with gastrointestinal disorders including patterns of microbiota dysbiosis and inflammatory peripheral markers, suggesting enhanced intestinal permeability in these patients. Chronic stress, the main environmental risk factor for MDD is linked to intestinal barrier deterioration and dysregulated gut-brain signalling. Therefore, we investigate effects of chronic stress on manifestations of intestinal permeability in both male and female mouse models of depression. Sequencing showed altered microbial populations post-stress. Furthermore, gene expression of intestinal tight junctions was altered with sex-specific effects, dependent on stress type and duration. Certain tight junction changes associated with resilience or susceptibility to the stress exposure, as determined by behavioural tests. We also identified Lipopolysaccharide binding protein (LBP) as a potential biomarker related to susceptibility to chronic stress. By investigating individual and sex differences, our results will be contributing to the knowledge of molecular mechanisms underlying vulnerability or resilience to chronic stress. As women have roughly a twofold higher risk of developing depression, identifying sex differences is particularly relevant. These studies will help to develop more effective and appropriate therapeutic strategies for the treatment of depression and possibly identify biomarkers which are greatly needed in the field. Targeting the intestinal barrier and potentially promoting barrier integrity, future treatments could have positive downstream effects on peripheral and central inflammatory pathways implicated in depression.
Document Type: Mémoire de maîtrise
Issue Date: 2022
Open Access Date: 2 May 2022
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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