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J Neurosci. 2007 Jun 13;27(24):6552-62.

Corticotropin-releasing factor receptors differentially regulate stress-induced tau phosphorylation.

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  • 1Laboratory of Neuronal Structure and Function, The Salk Institute for Biological Studies and Foundation for Medical Research, La Jolla, California 92037, USA. rrissman@salk.edu


Hyperphosphorylation of the microtubule-associated protein tau is a key event in the development of Alzheimer's disease (AD) neuropathology. Acute stress can induce hippocampal tau phosphorylation (tau-P) in rodents, but the mechanisms and pathogenic relevance of this response are unclear. Here, we find that hippocampal tau-P elicited by an acute emotional stressor, restraint, was not affected by preventing the stress-induced rise in glucocorticoids but was blocked by genetic or pharmacologic disruption of signaling through the type 1 corticotropin-releasing factor receptor (CRFR1). Conversely, these responses were exaggerated in CRFR2-deficient mice. Parallel CRFR dependence was seen in the stress-induced activation of specific tau kinases. Repeated stress exposure elicited cumulative effects on tau-P and its sequestration in an insoluble, and potentially pathogenic, form. These findings support differential regulatory roles for CRFRs in an AD-relevant form of neuronal plasticity and may link datasets documenting alterations in the CRF signaling system in AD and implicating chronic stress as a risk factor in age-related neurological disorders.

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