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Eur J Neurosci. 2004 Sep;20(5):1348-54.

Corticostriatal brain-derived neurotrophic factor dysregulation in adult rats following prenatal stress.

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Center of Neuropharmacology, Department of Pharmacological Sciences, University of Milan, Via Balzaretti 9, 20133, Italy.


Prenatal stress represents a well-established experimental protocol resembling some features of schizophrenia, including deficits in social interactions, disruption of prepulse inhibition and enhanced response to psychomotor stimulants. In order to evaluate molecular changes that could participate in long-lasting effects on brain function, we analysed the effects of prenatal stress on the expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), an important molecular determinant of synaptic plasticity and cellular homeostasis, in adult male rats under basal conditions as well as in response to a chronic stress. The main finding is that BDNF expression is reduced in the prefrontal cortex and striatum of prenatally stressed rats. Furthermore, when exposed to chronic stress in adulthood, these rats display an altered regulation of BDNF expression in these brain structures, implying that adverse life events during gestation may interfere with the expression and function of this neurotrophin at adulthood in a region-specific manner. The dysregulation of corticostriatal BDNF expression might thus contribute to permanent alterations in brain functions leading to heightened susceptibility to psychiatric disorders.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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