Prevention of stress-induced morphological and cognitive consequences

Bruce S. McEwen, Cheryl D. Conrad, Yasukazu Kuroda, Maya Frankfurt, Ana Maria Magarinos, Christina McKittrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

138 Scopus citations

Abstract

Atrophy and dysfunction of the human hippocampus is a feature of aging in some individuals, and this dysfunction predicts later dementia. There is reason to believe that adrenal glucocorticoids may contribute to these changes, since the elevations of glucocorticoids in Gushing's syndrome and during normal aging are associated with atrophy of the entire hippocampal formation in humans and are linked to deficits in short-term verbal memory. We have developed a model of stress-induced atrophy of the hippocampus of rats at the cellular level, and we have been investigating underlying mechanisms in search of agents that will block the atrophy. Repeated restraint stress in rats for 3 weeks causes changes in the hippocampal formation that include suppression of 5-HT1A receptor binding and atrophy of dendrites of CA3 pyramidal neurons, as well as impairment of initial learning of a radial arm maze task. Because serotonin is released by stressors and may play a role in the actions of stress on nerve cells, we investigated the actions of agents that facilitate or inhibit serotonin reuptake. Tianeptine is known to enhance serotonin uptake, and we compared it with fluoxetine, an inhibitor of 5-HT reuptake, as well as with desipramine. Tianeptine treatment (10 mg/kg/day) prevented the stress-induced atrophy of dendrites of CA3 pycamidal neurons, whereas neither fluoxetine (10 mg/kg/day) nor desipramine (10 mg/kg/day) had any effect. Tianeptine treatment also prevented the stress-induced impairment of radial maze learning. Because corticosterone- and stress-induced atrophy of CA3 dendrites is also blocked by phenytoin, an inhibitor of excitatory amino acid release and actions, these results suggest that serotonin released by stress or corticosterone may interact pre- or post-synaptically with glutamate released by stress or corticosterone, and that the final common path may involve interactive effects between serotonin and glutamate receptors on the dendrites of CA3 neurons innervated by messy fibers from the dentate gyrus. We discuss the implications of these findings for treating cognitive impairments and the risk for dementia in the elderly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S323-S328
JournalEuropean Neuropsychopharmacology
Volume7
Issue numberSUPPL. 3
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 1997
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Atrophy
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Hippocampus
  • Stress
  • Tianeptine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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