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Neuroscience. 2006 Sep 15;141(4):1775-81. Epub 2006 Jun 22.

Increased density and synapto-protective effect of adenosine A2A receptors upon sub-chronic restraint stress.

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Center for Neuroscience of Coimbra, Institute of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Coimbra, 3004-504 Coimbra, Portugal.


Stress initially causes adaptive changes in the brain and can lead to neurodegeneration if continuously present. Noxious brain conditions trigger the release of adenosine that can control brain function and neurodegeneration through inhibitory A(1) and facilitatory A(2A) receptors. We tested the effect of restraint stress on the density of adenosine receptors and their effect on the outcome of stress, focusing in a known affected region, the hippocampus. Sub-chronic restraint stress (6 h/day for 7 days) caused a parallel decrease of the density of A(1) receptors (15-20%) and an increase (near 250%) of A(2A) receptor density in rat hippocampal nerve terminals. This indicates that sub-chronic stress unbalances adenosine receptors, up-regulating A(2A) and down-regulating A(1) receptors. Sub-chronic stress did not cause hippocampal neurodegeneration but decreased the immunoreactivity (immunohistochemistry and Western blot) of a synaptic marker, synaptophysin. The blockade of A(2A) receptors with 7-(2-phenylethyl)-5-amino-2-(2-furyl)-pyrazolo-[4,3-e]-1,2,4-triazolo[1,5-c]pyrimidine (0.05 mg/kg, daily i.p. injection) attenuated the loss of synaptophysin immunoreactivity observed in the hippocampus of rats subjected to sub-chronic restraint stress. This ability of A(2A) receptor antagonists to prevent the earliest stress-induced synaptic modifications provides a neurochemical and morphological correlate for the interest of A(2A) receptor antagonists to attenuate the burden of chronic stress.

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