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Brain Res. 2006 Sep 19;1110(1):221-5. Epub 2006 Jul 31.

Chronic corticosterone decreases brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) mRNA and protein in the hippocampus, but not in the frontal cortex, of the rat.

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  • 1Department of In Vivo Pharmacology, NeuroSearch A/S, Pederstrupvej 93, Ballerup, Denmark.


This study examined the effects of chronic corticosterone (32 mg/kg/day, s.c., 21 days) on brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) mRNA and protein in the frontal cortex and hippocampus of the rat. Because evidence suggests that BDNF is an important determinant of the function of the 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) system, we also quantified tissue levels of 5-HT and its major metabolite, 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA), to investigate if changes in BDNF mRNA and protein paralleled changes in the 5-HT system. Corticosterone modestly decreased BDNF protein (-16.6%) in whole hippocampus and BDNF mRNA (-19%) in the CA3 area. In contrast, BDNF mRNA and protein in the frontal cortex were unchanged. In both the frontal cortex and hippocampus, tissue levels of 5-HT and 5-HIAA were increased and decreased, respectively. Combined, these data suggests that the effects of corticosterone on the BDNF system are not linked to the effects on the 5-HT systems. However, our findings do suggest that chronic corticosterone impairs hippocampal BDNF function, a finding with potential relevance for the hippocampal atrophy reported in major depression. Additionally, as inferred from the alterations in tissue levels of 5-HT and 5-HIAA, chronic corticosterone may influence the function of the 5-HT system.

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