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SIRT1 in the BNST modulates chronic stress-induced anxiety of male mice via FKBP5 and corticotropin-releasing factor signaling

Research group Swaab
Publication year 2023
Published in Molecular Psychiatry
Authors Pu Hu, Yu Wang, Xiu-Hong Qi, Qing-Hong Shan, Zhao-Huan Huang, Peng Chen, Xiao Ma, Yu-Peng Yang, D.F. Swaab, Benjamin A Samuels, Zhi Zhang, Jiang Ning Zhou

Although clinical reports have highlighted association of the deacetylase sirtuin 1 (SIRT1) gene with anxiety, its exact role in the pathogenesis of anxiety disorders remains unclear. The present study was designed to explore whether and how SIRT1 in the mouse bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST), a key limbic hub region, regulates anxiety. In a chronic stress model to induce anxiety in male mice, we used site- and cell-type-specific in vivo and in vitro manipulations, protein analysis, electrophysiological and behavioral analysis, in vivo MiniScope calcium imaging and mass spectroscopy, to characterize possible mechanism underlying a novel anxiolytic role for SIRT1 in the BNST. Specifically, decreased SIRT1 in parallel with increased corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) expression was found in the BNST of anxiety model mice, whereas pharmacological activation or local overexpression of SIRT1 in the BNST reversed chronic stress-induced anxiety-like behaviors, downregulated CRF upregulation, and normalized CRF neuronal hyperactivity. Mechanistically, SIRT1 enhanced glucocorticoid receptor (GR)-mediated CRF transcriptional repression through directly interacting with and deacetylating the GR co-chaperone FKBP5 to induce its dissociation from the GR, ultimately downregulating CRF. Together, this study unravels an important cellular and molecular mechanism highlighting an anxiolytic role for SIRT1 in the mouse BNST, which may open up new therapeutic avenues for treating stress-related anxiety disorders.

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