Altered ERK1/2 signaling in the brain of learned helpless rats: Relevance in vulnerability to developing stress-induced depression

Academic Article


  • Extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2- (ERK1/2-) mediated cellular signaling plays a major role in synaptic and structural plasticity. Although ERK1/2 signaling has been shown to be involved in stress and depression, whether vulnerability to develop depression is associated with abnormalities in ERK1/2 signaling is not clearly known. The present study examined ERK1/2 signaling in frontal cortex and hippocampus of rats that showed vulnerability (learned helplessness, (LH)) or resiliency (non-learned helplessness, (non-LH)) to developing stress-induced depression. In frontal cortex and hippocampus of LH rats, we found that mRNA and protein expressions of ERK1 and ERK2 were significantly reduced, which was associated with their reduced activation and phosphorylation in cytosolic and nuclear fractions, where ERK1 and ERK2 target their substrates. In addition, ERK1/2-mediated catalytic activities and phosphorylation of downstream substrates RSK1 (cytosolic and nuclear) and MSK1 (nuclear) were also lower in the frontal cortex and hippocampus of LH rats without any change in their mRNA or protein expression. None of these changes were evident in non-LH rats. Our study indicates that ERK1/2 signaling is differentially regulated in LH and non-LH rats and suggests that abnormalities in ERK1/2 signaling may be crucial in the vulnerability to developing depression.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • Neural Plasticity  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Dwivedi Y; Zhang H
  • Volume

  • 2016