Mice experiencing repeated aggression develop a long-lasting aversion to social contact, which can be normalized by chronic, but not acute, administration of antidepressant. Using viral-mediated, mesolimbic dopamine pathway-specific knockdown of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), we showed that BDNF is required for the development of this experience-dependent social aversion. Gene profiling in the nucleus accumbens indicates that local knockdown of BDNF obliterates most of the effects of repeated aggression on gene expression within this circuit, with similar effects being produced by chronic treatment with antidepressant. These results establish an essential role for BDNF in mediating long-term neural and behavioral plasticity in response to aversive social experiences.
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