Research ArticlePSYCHOLOGY

Corticosteroid signaling at the brain-immune interface impedes coping with severe psychological stress

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Science Advances  29 May 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 5, eaav4111
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aav4111

Abstract

The immune system supports brain plasticity and homeostasis, yet it is prone to changes following psychological stress. Thus, it remains unclear whether and how stress-induced immune alterations contribute to the development of mental pathologies. Here, we show that following severe stress in mice, leukocyte trafficking through the choroid plexus (CP), a compartment that mediates physiological immune-brain communication, is impaired. Blocking glucocorticoid receptor signaling, either systemically or locally through its genetic knockdown at the CP, facilitated the recruitment of Gata3- and Foxp3-expressing T cells to the brain and attenuated post-traumatic behavioral deficits. These findings functionally link post-traumatic stress behavior with elevated stress-related corticosteroid signaling at the brain-immune interface and suggest a novel therapeutic target to attenuate the consequences of severe psychological stress.

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