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J Neurosci. 2000 Jun 15;20(12):4657-68.

Distribution of corticosteroid receptors in the rhesus brain: relative absence of glucocorticoid receptors in the hippocampal formation.

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Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia 30322,


Chronic stress has been associated with degenerative changes in the rodent and primate hippocampus, presumably mediated in part via neuronal glucocorticoid receptors (GRs). In the rat brain, GRs are widely distributed and are particularly dense in the hippocampus. The distribution of GRs in the primate brain, however, has not been fully characterized. In this study, we used in situ hybridization histochemistry and immunohistochemistry to map the distribution of GR mRNA and GR protein, respectively, in adult rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta). In contrast to its well established distribution in the rat brain, GR mRNA was only weakly detected in the dentate gyrus (DG) and Cornu Ammonis (CA) of the macaque hippocampus, whereas it was abundant in the pituitary (PIT), cerebellum (CBL), hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN), and, to a lesser extent, the neocortex. Immunohistochemical staining indicated a very low density of GR-like immunoreactive cells within the macaque hippocampal formation in contrast to the high density observed within the PVN, prefrontal and entorhinal cortices, and cerebellar cortex. Relative to the low level of GR, mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) mRNA and protein expression were abundant within the DG and CA of the rhesus monkey hippocampal formation. These results indicate that, in the primate, neocortical and hypothalamic areas may be more important targets for GR-mediated effects of glucocorticoids than the hippocampus. Alternatively, it is also possible that glucocorticoid effects are mediated through the MRs present in the hippocampal formation.

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