Alnassar, N., Hillman, C., Fontana, B.D., Robson, S.C., Norton, W.H.J. & Parker, M.O. (2023). angptl4 Gene expression as a marker of adaptive homeostatic response to social isolation across the lifespan in zebrafish. Neurobiology of Aging, 131, 209-221.
Social isolation has detrimental health effects, but the underlying mechanisms are unclear. This study used zebrafish to investigate the impact of two weeks of isolation on behaviour and gene expression in the central nervous system (CNS) at different life stages. Results showed that socially deprived young adult zebrafish experienced increased anxiety, accompanied by changes in gene expression. Most gene expression patterns returned to normal within 24 hours of reintroduction to a social environment, except angptl4, which remained upregulated, suggesting an adaptive mechanism. Similarly, aging zebrafish displayed heightened anxiety and increased CNS expression of angptl4 during isolation, but effects were reversed upon reintroduction to a social group. The findings imply that angptl4 plays a homeostatic role in response to social isolation, which varies across the lifespan. The study emphasises the importance of social interactions for psychological well-being and highlights the negative consequences of isolation, especially in older individuals. Further research is necessary to understand how social isolation affects angptl4 expression and its developmental and ageing effects.
social isolation; aging; zebrafish; angptl4; anxiety