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Neuroscience. 2004;125(3):759-67.

Chronic stress enhances ibotenic acid-induced damage selectively within the hippocampal CA3 region of male, but not female rats.

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Department of Psychology, Box 1104, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-1104, USA.


The purpose of this investigation was to assess the ability of the hippocampus to withstand a metabolic challenge following chronic stress. An N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor excitotoxin (ibotenic acid, IBO) was infused into the CA3 region of the hippocampus following a period of restraint for 6 h/day/21 days. Following the end of restraint when CA3 dendritic retraction persists (3 to 4 days), rats were infused with IBO (or vehicle) into the CA3 region of the hippocampus. Stressed male rats showed significantly more CA3 damage after IBO infusion relative to controls and the saline-infused side. Moreover, IBO-exacerbation of damage in males was not observed in the CA3 region 3 to 4 days after acute stress (6 h restraint), nor in the CA1 region after chronic stress. Females were also examined and chronic stress did not exacerbate IBO damage in the CA3 region. Overall, these results demonstrate that chronic stress compromises the ability of the hippocampus to withstand a metabolic challenge days after the chronic stress regimen has subsided in male rats. Whether the conditions surrounding CA3 dendritic retraction in females represents vulnerability is less clear and warrants further investigation.

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