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Neuropsychopharmacology. 2002 Aug;27(2):133-42.

Downregulation of BDNF mRNA in the hippocampal dentate gyrus after re-exposure to cues previously associated with footshock.

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VA National Center for PTSD, Clinical Neuroscience Division, West Haven, CT, USA.


This study examined the effects of footshock stress and re-exposure to cues previously associated with footshock on expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) mRNA in the hippocampus of male rats. Exposure to twenty 0.5-s 0.4-mA footshocks co-terminating with 70 dB, 5-s long pure tones over 60 min decreased dentate gyrus BDNF mRNA by 21.5%. Baseline BDNF mRNA levels returned to normal by two days after footshock exposure. Re-exposure for 60 min to the chamber and tones previously paired with 0.4 mA footshock decreased BDNF mRNA by 12%. Re-exposure to the conditioning chamber and tones previously paired with 0.6 mA footshock over 60 min decreased BDNF mRNA by 20.8%. The data suggest that psychological, as well as unconditioned physical stress, can decrease hippocampal BDNF mRNA. Possible implications for stress-related and other neuropsychiatric disorders associated with deficits in hippocampal function and volume, such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and Alzheimer's Disease, are discussed.

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