Perineuronal Nets, Inhibitory Interneurons, and Anxiety-Related Ventral Hippocampal Neuronal Oscillations Are Altered by Early Life Adversity

Sahana Murthy, Gary A. Kane, Nicole J. Katchur, Paula S. Lara Mejia, Gracious Obiofuma, Timothy J. Buschman, Bruce S. McEwen, Elizabeth Gould

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Background: In humans, accumulated adverse experiences during childhood increase the risk of anxiety disorders and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. In rodents, the ventral hippocampus (vHIP)is associated with anxiety regulation, and lesions in this region alter both anxiety-like behavior and activity levels. Neuronal oscillations in the vHIP of the theta frequency range (4–12 Hz)have been implicated in anxious states and derive in part from the activity of inhibitory interneurons in the hippocampus, some of which are enwrapped with perineuronal nets (PNNs), extracellular matrix structures known to regulate plasticity. We sought to investigate the associations among early life stress–induced anxiety and hyperactivity with vHIP neuronal oscillations, inhibitory interneurons, and PNNs in mice. Methods: We used repeated maternal separation with early weaning (MSEW)to model accumulated early life adversity in mouse offspring and studied the underlying cellular and electrophysiological changes in the vHIP that are associated with excessive anxiety and hyperactivity. Results: We found increased anxiety-like behavior and activity levels in MSEW adult males, along with increased theta power and enhanced theta–gamma coupling in the vHIP. MSEW mice showed reduced intensity of parvalbumin as well as increased PNN intensity around parvalbumin-positive interneurons in the vHIP. We further observed that MSEW increased orthodenticle homeobox protein 2, a transcription factor promoting PNN development, in the choroid plexus, where it is produced, as well as in parvalbumin-positive interneurons, where it is sequestered. Conclusions: These findings raise the possibility of causal links among parvalbumin-positive interneurons, PNNs, orthodenticle homeobox protein 2, and MSEW-induced anxiety and hyperactivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1011-1020
Number of pages10
JournalBiological Psychiatry
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 15 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biological Psychiatry


  • Anxiety
  • Early life stress
  • Interneurons
  • Perineuronal nets
  • Theta rhythm
  • Ventral hippocampus


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