Cerebellar and multi-system metabolic reprogramming associated with trauma exposure and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)-like behavior in mice

Graeme Preston, Tim Emmerzaal, Silvia Radenkovic, Ian R. Lanza, Devin Oglesbee, Eva Morava, Tamas Kozicz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mitochondrial metabolism is increasingly implicated in psychopathologies and mood disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We recently reported that mice exposed to a novel paradigm for the induction of PTSD-like behavior displayed reduced mitochondrial electron transport chain (mtETC) complex activity as well as decreased multi-system fatty acid oxidation (FAO) flux. Based on these results, we hypothesized that stressed and PTSD-like animals would display evidence of metabolic reprogramming in both cerebellum and plasma consistent with increased energetic demand, mitochondrial metabolic reprogramming, and increased oxidative stress. We performed targeted metabolomics in both cerebellar tissue and plasma, as well as untargeted nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy in the cerebellum of 6 PTSD-like and 7 resilient male mice as well as 7 trauma-naïve controls. We identified numerous differences in amino acids and tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle metabolite concentrations in the cerebellum and plasma consistent with altered mitochondrial energy metabolism in trauma exposed and PTSD-like animals. Pathway analysis identified metabolic pathways with significant metabolic pathway shifts associated with trauma exposure, including the tricarboxylic acid cycle, pyruvate, and branched-chain amino acid metabolism in both cerebellar tissue and plasma. Altered glutamine and glutamate metabolism, and arginine biosynthesis was evident uniquely in cerebellar tissue, while ketone body levels were modified in plasma. Importantly, we also identified several cerebellar metabolites (e.g. choline, adenosine diphosphate, beta-alanine, taurine, and myo-inositol) that were sufficient to discriminate PTSD-like from resilient animals. This multilevel analysis provides a comprehensive understanding of local and systemic metabolite fingerprints associated with PTSD-like behavior, and subsequently altered brain bioenergetics. Notably, several transformed metabolic pathways observed in the cerebellum were also reflected in plasma, connecting central and peripheral biosignatures of PTSD-like behavior. These preliminary findings could direct further mechanistic studies and offer insights into potential metabolic interventions, either pharmacological or dietary, to improve PTSD resilience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100300
JournalNeurobiology of Stress
StatePublished - May 2021


  • BCAA
  • Cerebellum
  • Metabolomics
  • Mitochondria
  • PTSD

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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