Vindas, Marco A3; Sørensen, Christina3; Johansen, Ida4; Folkedal, Ole3; Höglund, Erik1; Khan, Uniza W3; Stien, Lars H3; Kristiansen, Tore6; Braastad, Bjarne O3; Overli, Oyvind3
1 National Institute of Aquatic Resources, Technical University of Denmark2 Section for Aquaculture, National Institute of Aquatic Resources, Technical University of Denmark3 unknown4 University of Oslo5 Institute of Marine Research6 Institute of Marine Research
Comparative studies are imperative for understanding the evolution of adaptive neurobiological processes such as neural plasticity, cognition, and emotion. Previously we have reported that prolonged omission of expected rewards (OER, or 'frustrative nonreward') causes increased aggression in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). Here we report changes in brain monoaminergic activity and relative abundance of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and dopamine receptor mRNA transcripts in the same paradigm. Groups of fish were initially conditioned to associate a flashing light with feeding. Subsequently, the expected food reward was delayed for 30 minutes during two out of three meals per day in the OER treatment, while the previously established routine was maintained in control groups. After 8 days there was no effect of OER on baseline brain stem serotonin (5-HT) or dopamine (DA) activity. Subsequent exposure to acute confinement stress led to increased plasma cortisol and elevated turnover of brain stem DA and 5-HT in all animals. The DA response was potentiated and DA receptor 1 (D1) mRNA abundance was reduced in the OER-exposed fish, indicating a sensitization of the DA system. In addition OER suppressed abundance of BDNF in the telencephalon of non-stressed fish. Regardless of OER treatment, a strong positive correlation between BDNF and D1 mRNA abundance was seen in non-stressed fish. This correlation was disrupted by acute stress, and replaced by a negative correlation between BDNF abundance and plasma cortisol concentration. These observations indicate a conserved link between DA, neurotrophin regulation, and corticosteroid-signaling pathways. The results also emphasize how fish models can be important tools in the study of neural plasticity and responsiveness to environmental unpredictability.