Jessica BoltonAssistant Professor Neuroscience
B.S., 2010, Animal Behavior, Southwestern University (Summa Cum Laude)
Ph.D., 2015, Psychology and Neuroscience, Duke University
Postdoctoral Fellow, 2015-2020, University of California, Irvine
Neuroimmunology, Microglia-Neuron Interactions, Early-life Stress/Adversity, Neurodevelopment, Neuroendocrinology, Behavioral Neuroscience
The Bolton Lab conducts basic neuroscience research on limbic and stress-related circuits to probe the mechanisms by which early-life experiences, like adversity and stress, can “rewire” the highly plastic developing brain. We are particularly interested in microglial interactions with corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH)-expressing neurons in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus (PVN), amygdala, and nucleus accumbens, and how these can shape risk vs. resilience to depression and drug addiction. Our work spans multiple levels of analysis, from molecular/cellular to functional/behavioral, and we employ cutting-edge techniques like 2-photon time-lapse imaging of microglia-neuron interactions, 3-D reconstruction confocal microscopy, RNA-sequencing of specific microglial and neuronal populations, and in vivo cell-specific manipulation with DREADDs and conditional knockout mice.
Dr. Bolton is a neuroscientist with special interests in microglia, the resident immune cells of the brain, and their role in brain development. She acquired her love of microglia and neuroimmunology while a PhD student with Dr. Staci Bilbo at Duke University. She then expanded her focus to studying microglia-neuron interactions in specific stress-responsive cell populations during her postdoctoral training with Dr. Tallie Z. Baram at the University of California- Irvine. While there, she also became adept at employing a widely-used and ethologically relevant rodent model of early-life stress/adversity, which is provoked by limited bedding and nesting materials during the first postnatal week of life, and was invented in the Baram lab. This naturalistic adversity paradigm has been highly useful for probing the impacts of early-life experiences on developing neural circuits and susceptibility to later mental health disorders, such as depression and drug addiction. Thus, her work has important translational implications for informing the treatment and prevention of neuropsychiatric disorders, and her research has been supported by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation.
Birnie, M. T., Kooiker, C. L., Short, A. K., Bolton, J. L., Chen, Y., & Baram, T. Z. (2020). Plasticity of the reward circuitry after early life adversity: mechanisms and significance. Biological Psychiatry 87, 875–884.
Bolton, J. L., Short, A. K., Simeone, K., Daglian, J., & Baram, T. Z. (2019). Programming of stress-sensitive neurons and circuits by early-life experiences. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 13(30). DOI: 10.3389/fnbeh.2019.00030.
Bolton, J. L., Molet, J., Regev, L., Chen, Y., Rismanchi, N., Haddad, E., Yang, D. Z., Obenaus, A., & Baram, T. Z. (2018). Anhedonia following early-life adversity involves aberrant interaction of reward and anxiety circuits and is reversed by partial silencing of amygdala corticotropin-releasing hormone gene. Biological Psychiatry, 83(2), 137-147.
Bolton, J. L.*, Ruiz, C.*, Rismanchi, N., Sanchez, G., Castillo, E., Huang, J., Baram, T. Z., & Mahler, S. V. (2018). Early-life adversity facilitates acquisition of cocaine self-administration and induces persistent anhedonia. Neurobiology of Stress, 8, 57-67. *Co-first authorship
Hanamsagar, R., Alter, M. D., Block, C. S., Sullivan, H., Bolton, J. L., & Bilbo S. D. (2017). Generation of a microglial developmental index in mice and in humans reveals a sex difference in maturation and immune reactivity. GLIA, 65(9), 1504-1520.
Bolton, J. L.*, Marinero, S.*, Hassanzadeh, T., Natesan, D., Le, D., Belliveau, C., Mason, S. N., Auten, R. L., & Bilbo, S. D. (2017). Gestational exposure to air pollution alters cortical volume, microglial morphology, and microglia-neuron interactions in a sex-specific manner. Frontiers in Synaptic Neuroscience, 9(10). *Co-first authorship
Bolton, J. L., & Bilbo, S. D. (2014). Developmental programming of brain and behavior by perinatal diet: Focus on inflammatory mechanisms. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, 16, 307-320.
Bolton, J. L., Huff, N. C., Smith, S. H., Mason, S. N., Foster, W. M., Auten, R. L., & Bilbo, S. D. (2013). Maternal stress and effects of prenatal air pollution on offspring mental health outcomes in mice. Environmental Health Perspectives, 121, 1075-1082.
Bolton, J. L., Smith, S. H., Huff, N. C., Gilmour, M. I., Foster, W. M., Auten, R. L., & Bilbo, S. D. (2012). Prenatal air pollution exposure induces neuroinflammation and predisposes offspring to weight gain in adulthood in a sex-specific manner. The FASEB Journal, 26, 1-12.
*Recommended by the Faculty of 1000 (F1000)