Repeated stress is a risk factor for memory impairment and neurological abnormalities in both humans and animals. We sought to investigate the extent of (i) brain tissue injury; (ii) nitrosative and oxidative stress in brain tissue homogenates; (iii) apoptotic and survival biomarkers in brain tissue homogenates; and (iv) immobility and climbing abilities, induced over a period of three weeksbychronicunpredictablestress(CUS). Wistarratswereeitherleftuntreated(Controlgroup)orexposedtoavarietyofunpredictable stressors daily before being sacrificed after 3 weeks (model group). Assessment of depression-like behavior was performed and animals were then culled and harvested brain tissues were stained with basic histological staining and examined under light microscopy. In addition, brain tissue homogenates were prepared and assayed for these parameters; inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), malondialdehyde (MDA), superoxide dismutase (SOD), caspase-3, and B-cell lymphoma 2 (Bcl-2). Histology images showed CUS induced profound damage to the cerebral cortex as demonstrated by severe neuronal damage with shrunken cells, disrupted atrophic nuclei, perineuronal vacuolation and swollen glial cells. CUS also significantly (p<0.05) induced iNOS, MDA, and caspase-3, whereas SOD and Bcl-2 brain tissue levels were inhibited by CUS. In addition, data from the depression-like behavior, forced swimming test showed significant (p<0.05) increase in animal immobility and decrease in climbing ability in the model group of rats. Thus, here we demonstrated a reliable rat model of chronic stress-induced brain injury, which can further be used to investigate beneficial drugs or agents used for a period of three weeks to protect against CUS-induced brain damage.
KEY WORDS: Brain injury; Chronic stress; Apoptosis and survival; Nitrosative and oxidative stress; Rat model.