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Brain Res. 2000 Jul 7;870(1-2):109-17.

Glucocorticoids exacerbate insult-induced declines in metabolism in selectively vulnerable hippocampal cell fields.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.


Glucocorticoids (GCs), the adrenal steroids released during stress, can compromise the ability of hippocampal neurons to survive necrotic neurological insults. This GC-induced endangerment has energetic facets, in that it can be attenuated with energy supplementation. In the present report, we studied the effects of GCs on the metabolic response of specific hippocampal cell fields to necrotic insults. We used silicon microphysiometry, which allows indirect measurement of metabolism in real time in tissue explants. Aglycemia caused a significant decline in metabolism in dentate gyrus explants, but not in CA1 or CA3 explants. When coupled with our prior report of cyanide disrupting metabolism only in CA1 explants, and the glutamatergic excitotoxin kainic acid disrupting metabolism only in CA3 explants, this demonstrates that microphysiometry can detect the selective regional vulnerability that characterizes the hippocampal response to these necrotic insults. We then examined the effects of GCs on the response to these insults, monitoring explants taken from rats that were adrenalectomized, intact, or treated with corticosterone (the GC of rats) that produced circulating levels equivalent to those of major stressors. Increased exposure to GCs worsened the decline in metabolism in dentate gyrus explants induced by hypoglycemia, and in CA1 explants induced by cyanide (after eliminating the effects of glial release of lactate for the support of neuronal metabolism). Thus, GCs worsen the metabolic consequences of necrotic insults in hippocampal explants.

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