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Aging Cell. 2004 Dec;3(6):363-71.

Age-dependent expression of glucocorticoid- and mineralocorticoid receptors on neural precursor cell populations in the adult murine hippocampus.

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Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch, Robert-Rössle-Str. 10, 13125 Berlin, Germany.


Steroid hormones are regulators of adult hippocampal neurogenesis and are central to hypotheses regarding adult neurogenesis in age-related and psychiatric disturbances associated with altered hippocampal plasticity--most notably dementias and major depression. Using immunohistochemistry, we examined the expression of glucocorticoid (GR) and mineralocorticoid (MR) receptors during adult hippocampal neurogenesis. In young mice only 27% of dividing cells in the subgranular zone expressed GR, whereas 4 weeks after division 87% had become positive for GR and MR. GR was expressed by 50% of the radial glia-like type-1 and type-2a progenitor cells, whereas MR was expressed only by mature calbindin-positive granule cells. Doublecortin-positive neuronal progenitor cells (type-2b) and early postmitotic calretinin-positive neurons were devoid of GR and MR expression. Fifty per cent of the intermediate type-3 cells showed GR expression, possibly reflecting cells terminating maturation. Thus, all subpopulations of dividing precursor cells showed an identical receptor profile (50% GR, no MR), except for type-2b cells, which expressed neither receptor. There was also no overlap between calretinin and GR early postnatally (P8) or after physical activity or exposure to an enriched environment, both of which are potent neurogenic stimuli. In contrast, in old age calretinin-positive young neurons became GR and MR positive, suggesting increased steroid sensitivity. Age also increased the expression of GR in type-1 and type-2a precursor cells. Other intermediates were so rare in old age that they could not be studied. This course and variability of receptor expression in aging might help to explain differential vulnerability of adult neural precursor cells to corticoid-mediated influences.

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