The predisposition to stress-related mood disorders likely involves a genetic vulnerability to increased stress sensitivity and may be a direct result of a dysregulation in central corticotrophin releasing factor (CRF) pathways. The focus of this grant proposal is the examination of central CRF pathway dysregulation involvement with increased susceptibility for stress-related mood disorders via interactions with serotonin (5-HT) neurocircuitry. Our studies utilize a genetic mouse model in which CRF expression is elevated in the amygdala in addition to showing increased stress responsivity under conditions of homeostatic challenge. In order to influence synaptic 5-HT levels in our behavioral, biochemical, and molecular comparisons, we will treat animals with the SSRI fluoxetine. The following aims are proposed using an integrated view of how stress pathways impact emotional behavior, specifically the interactions of CRF and 5-HT neurocircuitry.
Aim 1 will examine the possible role of CRF dysregulation in the development of stress-related mood disorders resulting from an impact on serotonin pathways by examining behavioral stress responses.
Aim 2 will then examine the molecular and biochemical changes corresponding with behavioral outputs following fluoxetine treatment. We will study alterations in CRF and 5-HT receptor gene expression, protein levels and biochemical state, and receptor occupancy in specific brain regions.
In Aim 3 we will create a conditional, inducible, site-specific mouse deficient for CRFR1 in 5-HT producing cells in order to more directly examine the specific interaction of elevated central CRF expression and 5-HT pathways impacting stress-sensitive behaviors. These mice will be crossed with our CRFR2-deficient mice to produce mice with elevated amygdalar CRF and deficient in CRFR1 in 5-HT cells. We hypothesize that results from these proposed studies will demonstrate an involvement of a dysregulation of CRF pathways in alterations in 5-HT neurotransmission leading to a predisposition to stress-related mood disorders.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Project (R01)
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Neuroendocrinology, Neuroimmunology, and Behavior Study Section (NNB)
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Winsky, Lois M
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University of Pennsylvania
Veterinary Sciences
Schools of Veterinary Medicine
United States
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Bronson, Stefanie L; Chan, Jennifer C; Bale, Tracy L (2017) Sex-Specific Neurodevelopmental Programming by Placental Insulin Receptors on Stress Reactivity and Sensorimotor Gating. Biol Psychiatry 82:127-138
Morrison, Kathleen E; Epperson, C Neill; Sammel, Mary D et al. (2017) Preadolescent Adversity Programs a Disrupted Maternal Stress Reactivity in Humans and Mice. Biol Psychiatry 81:693-701
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Morrison, Kathleen E; Narasimhan, Sneha; Fein, Ethan et al. (2016) Peripubertal Stress With Social Support Promotes Resilience in the Face of Aging. Endocrinology 157:2002-14
Bronson, Stefanie L; Bale, Tracy L (2016) The Placenta as a Mediator of Stress Effects on Neurodevelopmental Reprogramming. Neuropsychopharmacology 41:207-18
Jašarevi?, Eldin; Morrison, Kathleen E; Bale, Tracy L (2016) Sex differences in the gut microbiome-brain axis across the lifespan. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 371:20150122
Bale, Tracy L; Epperson, C Neill (2015) Sex differences and stress across the lifespan. Nat Neurosci 18:1413-20
Rodgers, Ali B; Bale, Tracy L (2015) Germ Cell Origins of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Risk: The Transgenerational Impact of Parental Stress Experience. Biol Psychiatry 78:307-14
Jašarevi?, Eldin; Rodgers, Ali B; Bale, Tracy L (2015) A novel role for maternal stress and microbial transmission in early life programming and neurodevelopment. Neurobiol Stress 1:81-88
Kim, Deborah R; Bale, Tracy L; Epperson, C Neill (2015) Prenatal programming of mental illness: current understanding of relationship and mechanisms. Curr Psychiatry Rep 17:5

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