[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Chronic stress may have different effects on hippocampal CA3 and CA1 neuronal morphology and function depending upon hormonal status, but rarely are manipulations of stress and gonadal steroids combined. Experiment 1 investigated the effects of chronic restraint and 17beta-estradiol replacement on CA3 and CA1 dendritic morphology and spatial learning in ovariectomized (OVX) female Sprague-Dawley rats. OVX rats were implanted with 25% 17beta-estradiol, 100% cholesterol, or blank silastic capsules and then chronically restrained (6h/d/21d) or kept in home cages. 17beta-Estradiol or cholesterol prevented stress-induced CA3 dendritic retraction, increased CA1 apical spine density, and altered CA1 spine shape. The combination of chronic stress and 17beta-estradiol facilitated water maze acquisition compared to chronic stress + blank implants and nonstressed controls + 17beta-estradiol. To further investigate the interaction between 17beta-estradiol and stress on hippocampal morphology, experiment 2 was conducted on gonadally intact, cycling female rats that were chronically restrained (6h/d/21d), and then euthanized at proestrus (high ovarian hormones) or estrus (low ovarian hormones). Cycling female rats failed to show chronic stress-induced CA3 dendritic retraction at either estrous phase. Chronic stress enhanced the ratio of CA1 basal spine heads to headless spines as found in experiment 1. In addition, proestrous rats displayed increased CA1 spine density regardless of stress history. These results show that 17beta-estradiol or cholesterol protect against chronic stress-induced CA3 dendritic retraction in females. These stress- and 17beta-estradiol-induced morphological changes may provide insight into how dendritic complexity and spine properties contribute to spatial ability.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We previously found that chronic stress conditions producing CA3 dendritic retraction and spatial memory deficits make the hippocampus vulnerable to the neurotoxin ibotenic acid (IBO). The purpose of this study was to determine whether exposure to chronic corticosterone (CORT) under conditions that produce CA3 dendritic retraction would enhance CA3 susceptibility to IBO. Male Sprague Dawley rats were chronically treated for 21 d with CORT in drinking water (400 microg/ml), and half were given daily injections of phenytoin (40 mg/kg), an antiepileptic drug that prevents CA3 dendritic retraction. Three days after treatments stopped, IBO was infused into the CA3 region. Conditions producing CA3 dendritic retraction (CORT and vehicle) exacerbated IBO-induced CA3 damage compared with conditions in which CA3 dendritic retraction was not observed (vehicle and vehicle, vehicle and phenytoin, CORT and phenytoin). Additionally, spatial recognition memory was assessed using the Y-maze, revealing that conditions producing CA3 dendritic retraction failed to impair spatial recognition memory. Furthermore, CORT levels in response to a potentially mild stressor (injection and Y-maze exposure) stayed at basal levels and failed to differ among key groups (vehicle and vehicle, CORT and vehicle, CORT and phenytoin), supporting the interpretations that CORT levels were unlikely to have been elevated during IBO infusion and that the neuroprotective actions of phenytoin were not through CORT alterations. These data are the first to show that conditions with prolonged glucocorticoid elevations leading to structural changes in hippocampal dendritic arbors can make the hippocampus vulnerable to neurotoxic challenges. These findings have significance for many disorders with elevated glucocorticoids that include depression, schizophrenia, Alzheimer's disease, and Cushing's disease.
The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience 09/2007; 27(31):8278-85. DOI:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2121-07.2007 · 6.34 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study investigated whether chronic stress-induced spatial memory deficits were caused by changes in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, such as corticosterone (CORT) elevations on the day of memory assessment, rather than the consequence of structural changes in the hippocampus. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were restrained for 6 h/day/21 days, and spatial memory was assessed on the Y-maze on day 22. Ninety minutes before training, rats received a subcutaneous injection of vehicle or metyrapone, a CORT synthesis inhibitor, and then spatial memory was determined 4-h later. The highest dose of metyrapone (75 mg/kg, s.c.) was most effective at preventing stress-induced spatial memory deficits. Chronic stress increased total CORT levels following Y-maze exposure, while acute metyrapone treatment dose-dependently attenuated total and free (unbound) CORT levels in both stress and control conditions. Blood samples taken from a separate subset of chronically stressed rats showed that baseline CORT levels were similar across the restraint period. Finally, chronic stress down-regulated glucocorticoid, but not mineralocorticoid, receptor mRNA expression within the hippocampus (dentate gyrus, CA1, CA2, CA3). These findings suggest that chronic stress-induced spatial memory deficits may be mediated by hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis dysregulation. Specifically, CORT elevations and reductions in hippocampal glucocorticoid receptor expression, at the time of behavioural assessment may be involved, as opposed to a direct effect that is solely dependent upon hippocampal structural changes. These results have significance for treating cognitive decline in conditions associated with elevated glucocorticoids that include subpopulations in ageing, depression, Cushing's disease and Alzheimer's disease.
European Journal of Neuroscience 08/2006; 24(2):595-605. DOI:10.1111/j.1460-9568.2006.04948.x · 3.18 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We investigated how sex and estrous cycle influenced spatial recognition memory in the Y-maze after exposure to acute restraint stress. In Experiment 1, intact male and female rats were restrained for 1 h and then 2 h after the start of restraint, rats were trained on the Y-maze. After a 4 h delay, hippocampal-dependent spatial recognition memory was assessed. Acute stress produced opposite patterns between the sexes with spatial memory being impaired in males and facilitated in females. Serum corticosterone measures indicated that both sexes showed a robust corticosterone response after restraint and a moderate corticosterone response after Y-maze exposure. Serum corticosterone levels in response to restraint and Y-maze were not statistically different between the sexes. Experiment 2 examined the influence of the estrous cycle on spatial memory ability after acute stress. Acute stress facilitated spatial memory in females compared to controls, regardless of the estrous cycle phase (estrus and proestrus). Moreover, females in proestrus showed higher serum corticosterone levels during restraint compared to females in estrus. No differences in corticosterone levels were observed at baseline or following 2 h of recovery from restraint. These data show important differences in how sex and estrous cycle influence cognitive functions following acute stress.