Accumulating evidence from both the human and animal literature indicates that exercise reduces the negative consequences of stress. The neurobiological etiology for this stress protection, however, is not completely understood. Our lab reported that voluntary wheel running protects rats from expressing depression-like instrumental learning deficits on the shuttle box escape task after exposure to unpredictable and inescapable tail shocks (uncontrollable stress). Impaired escape behavior is a result of stress-sensitized serotonin (5-HT) neuron activity in the dorsal raphe (DRN) and subsequent excessive release of 5-HT into the dorsal striatum following exposure to a comparatively mild stressor. However, the possible mechanisms by which exercise prevents stress-induced escape deficits are not well characterized. The purpose of this experiment was to test the hypothesis that exercise blunts the stress-evoked release of 5-HT in the dorsal striatum. Changes to dopamine (DA) levels were also examined, since striatal DA signaling is critical for instrumental learning and can be influenced by changes to 5-HT activity. Adult male F344 rats, housed with or without running wheels for 6 weeks, were either exposed to tail shock or remained undisturbed in laboratory cages. Twenty-four hours later, microdialysis was performed in the medial (DMS) and lateral (DLS) dorsal striatum to collect extracellular 5-HT and DA before, during, and following 2 mild foot shocks. We report wheel running prevents foot shock-induced elevation of extracellular 5-HT and potentiates DA concentrations in both the DMS and DLS approximately 24 h following exposure to uncontrollable stress. These data may provide a possible mechanism by which exercise prevents depression-like instrumental learning deficits following exposure to acute stress.
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Clark, Peter J; Amat, Jose; McConnell, Sara O; Ghasem, Parsa R; Greenwood, Benjamin N; Fleshner, Monika; and Maier, Steven F., "Running Reduces Uncontrollable Stress-Evoked Serotonin and Potentiates Stress-Evoked Dopamine Concentrations in the Rat Dorsal Striatum." (2015). Psychology and Neuroscience Faculty Contributions. 23.