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J Neurosci Res. 2006 Apr;83(5):775-86.

Gender differences in response of hippocampus to chronic glucocorticoid stress: role of glutamate receptors.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, University of Illinois at Chicago, Illinois 60612, USA.


Glucocorticoids (GC) play critical roles in the pathophysiological reactions to environmental stress. In brain, morphological changes were examined in hippocampal CA3 neurons with 2 weeks of chronic elevation of GC in male and female mice. Molecular correlates and underlying mechanisms paralleling these morphologic changes in hippocampus were investigated. Although the hippocampal neurons in the CA3 area in male mice atrophy with chronically elevated GC, female mice show minimal morphological changes with comparable GC regimens. These sexual morphological differences correlate with differences in the postsynaptic dense protein (PSD95) as well as the spectrum of glutamate receptors induced by GC treatment in male and female mice, including NMDA, AMPA, and KA receptors. These findings suggest that synaptic receptor composition is adapted to the unique physiological requirements of males and females and illuminate underlying mechanisms of GC/stress responses in the brain.

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