Social deficits induced by peripubertal stress in rats are reversed by resveratrol
Adolescence is increasingly recognized as a critical period for the development of the social system, through the maturation of social competences and of their underlying neural circuitries. The present study sought to test the utility of resveratrol, a dietary phenol recently reported to have mood lifting properties, in modulating social interaction that is deficient following early life adversity. The main aims were to 1) pharmacologically restore normative social investigation levels dampened by peripubertal stress in rats and 2) identify neural pathways engaged by this pharmacological approach. Following peripubertal (P28–42) stress consisting of unpredictable exposures to fearful experiences, at adulthood the subjects' propensity for social exploration was examined in the three-chamber apparatus, comparing time invested in social or non-social investigation. Administered intraperitoneally 30 min before testing, resveratrol (20 mg/kg) normalized the peripubertal stress-induced social investigation deficit seen in the vehicle group, selectively altering juvenile but not object exploration. Examination of prefrontal cortex subregion protein samples following acute resveratrol treatment in a separate cohort revealed that while monoamine oxidase A (MAOA) enzymatic activity remained unaltered, nuclear AKT activation was selectively increased in the infralimbic cortex, but not in the prelimbic or anterior cingulate cortex. In contrast, androgen receptor nuclear localization was increased in the prelimbic cortex, but not in the infralimbic or anterior cingulate cortex. This demonstration that social contact deficits are reversed by resveratrol administration emphasizes a prosocial role for this dietary phenol, and evokes the possibility of developing new treatments for social dysfunctions.