King's College London

Research portal

The type of stress matters: repeated injection and permanent social isolation stress in male mice have a differential effect on anxiety- and depressive-like behaviours and associated biological alterations

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Article number325
JournalTranslational psychiatry
Issue number1
Published1 Dec 2020

King's Authors


Chronic stress can alter the immune system, adult hippocampal neurogenesis and induce anxiety- and depressive-like behaviour in rodents. However, previous studies have not discriminated between the effect(s) of different types of stress on these behavioural and biological outcomes. We investigated the effect(s) of repeated injection vs. permanent social isolation on behaviour, stress responsivity, immune system functioning and hippocampal neurogenesis, in young adult male mice, and found that the type of stress exposure does indeed matter. Exposure to 6 weeks of repeated injection resulted in an anxiety-like phenotype, decreased systemic inflammation (i.e., reduced plasma levels of TNFα and IL4), increased corticosterone reactivity, increased microglial activation and decreased neuronal differentiation in the dentate gyrus (DG). In contrast, exposure to 6 weeks of permanent social isolation resulted in a depressive-like phenotype, increased plasma levels of TNFα, decreased plasma levels of IL10 and VEGF, decreased corticosterone reactivity, decreased microglial cell density and increased cell density for radial glia, s100β-positive cells and mature neuroblasts—all in the DG. Interestingly, combining the two distinct stress paradigms did not have an additive effect on behavioural and biological outcomes, but resulted in yet a different phenotype, characterized by increased anxiety-like behaviour, decreased plasma levels of IL1β, IL4 and VEGF, and decreased hippocampal neuronal differentiation, without altered neuroinflammation or corticosterone reactivity. These findings demonstrate that different forms of chronic stress can differentially alter both behavioural and biological outcomes in young adult male mice, and that combining multiple stressors may not necessarily cause more severe pathological outcomes.

View graph of relations

© 2020 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454