Oxytocin Prevents Dysregulation of the Acute Stress Response and Glucocorticoid-induced Oxidative Stress in Chronically Isolated Prairie Voles.
Chronic social isolation can lead to dysregulation of many physiological and psychological processes, including the ability to respond to acute stressors. Previous work in our lab reported that six weeks of social isolation in prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster) caused increased glucocorticoid levels, oxidative damage, telomere degradation and anhedonia, and that oxytocin treatment prevented all of these changes. Following these results, we investigated how chronic social isolation with and without oxytocin treatment affected glucocorticoid (CORT) and oxidative stress responses to an acute stressor, a 5-min resident-intruder (R-I) test at the end of the social isolation period. To investigate the effect of a brief acute stressor on CORT and oxidative stress, baseline blood samples were collected following six weeks of social isolation, 24-hrs before the R-I test. Two more blood samples were collected 15-min after the end of the R-I test, and again 25-min later to measure peak and recovery responses, respectively. Isolated animals had higher baseline, peak, recovery, and integrated levels of CORT and reactive oxygen metabolites (ROMs, a measure of oxidative stress), compared to animals that did not experience isolation. Importantly, oxytocin treatment throughout the isolation period prevented these elevations in CORT and ROMs. No significant changes were observed in total antioxidant capacity (TAC). Levels of CORT and ROMs at the peak and recovery time points were positively correlated. These data show that acute stress in chronically isolated prairie voles, then, is associated with increased glucocorticoid-induced oxidative stress (GiOS), and that oxytocin mitigates isolation-induced dysregulation of glucocorticoid and oxidative stress acute stress responses.
Stevenson, Jennie; McMahon, Elyse; McNeely, Taylor; and Haussmann, Mark F.. "Oxytocin Prevents Dysregulation of the Acute Stress Response and Glucocorticoid-induced Oxidative Stress in Chronically Isolated Prairie Voles.." (2023) .