Differential Effects of Social Isolation on Oligodendrocyte Development in Different Brain Regions: Insights from A Canine Model

Hong Huilin, Guo Chao, Liu Xueru, Yang Liguang, Ren Wei, Zhao Hui, Li Yuan, Zhou Zhongyin, Lam Sin Man, Mi Jidong, Zuo Zhentao, Liu Cirong, Wang Guo-Dong, Zhuo Yan, Zhang Ya-Ping, Li Yixue, Shui Guanghou, Zhang Yong Q., Xiong Ying

Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience
DOI: 10.3389/fncel.2023.1201295


Social isolation (SI) exerts diverse adverse effects on brain structure and function in humans. To gain an insight into the mechanisms underlying these effects, we conducted a systematic analysis of multiple brain regions from socially isolated and group-housed dogs, whose brain and behavior are similar to humans. Our transcriptomic analysis revealed reduced expression of myelin-related genes specifically in the white matter of prefrontal cortex (PFC) after SI during the juvenile stage. Despite these gene expression changes, myelin fiber organization in PFC remained unchanged. Surprisingly, we observed more mature oligodendrocytes and thicker myelin bundles in the somatosensory parietal cortex in socially isolated dogs, which may be linked to an increased expression of ADORA2A, a gene known to promote oligodendrocyte maturation. Additionally, we found a reduced expression of blood-brain barrier (BBB) structural components Aquaporin-4, Occludin, and Claudin1 in both PFC and parietal cortices, indicating BBB disruption after SI. In agreement with BBB disruption, myelin-related sphingolipids were increased in cerebrospinal fluid in the socially isolated group. These unexpected findings show that SI induces distinct alterations in oligodendrocyte development and shared disruption in BBB integrity in different cortices, demonstrating the value of dogs as a complementary animal model to uncover molecular mechanisms underlying SI-induced brain dysfunction.