Abstract

Juvenile social experience is crucial for the functional development of forebrain regions, especially the prefrontal cortex (PFC). We previously reported that social isolation for 2 weeks after weaning induces prefrontal cortex dysfunction and hypomyelination. However, the effect of social isolation on physiological properties of PFC neuronal circuit remained unknown. Since hypomyelination due to isolation is prominent in deep-layer of medial PFC (mPFC), we focused on 2 types of Layer-5 pyramidal cells in the mPFC: prominent h-current (PH) cells and nonprominent h-current (non-PH) cells. We found that a 2-week social isolation after weaning leads to a specific deterioration in action potential properties and reduction in excitatory synaptic inputs in PH cells. The effects of social isolation on PH cells, which involve reduction in functional glutamatergic synapses and α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid/N-methyl-d-aspartate charge ratio, are specific to the 2 weeks after weaning and to the mPFC. We conclude that juvenile social experience plays crucial roles in the functional development in a subtype of Layer-5 pyramidal cells in the mPFC. Since these neurons project to subcortical structures, a deficit in social experience during the critical period may result in immature neural circuitry between mPFC and subcortical targets.

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