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Neuroscience. 2007 Dec 5;150(2):251-9. Epub 2007 Sep 26.

Functional implications of decreases in neurogenesis following chronic mild stress in mice.

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Brudnick Neuropsychiatric Research Institute, University of Massachusetts Medical School, 303 Belmont Street, Worcester, MA 01604, USA.


Numerous data from human and animal studies suggest that hippocampal plasticity might be a key element in depression. However, the connection remains loose at best and further data are needed. Human studies are of necessity limited, but animal models can help providing further insight. Unpredictable chronic mild stress (UCMS) is a commonly used model because it mimics depression-like phenotypes satisfactorily. Its rationale is based on the underlying stress-induced difficulties found in many depressed patients. We therefore studied learning and hippocampal neurogenesis in mice from three different inbred strains subjected to UCMS. Learning was assessed in different hippocampus-dependent and independent tasks. The rate of survival of newly generated brain cells was determined in behaviorally-naive animals. Results demonstrated a dramatic reduction of surviving new brain cells in both the hippocampus and the subventricular zone of UCMS-treated animals. This reduction was observed both for neurons and for other cells of the hippocampus. Behavioral data demonstrated an impairment of hippocampus-dependent learning, whereas hippocampus-independent learning was spared. However, the specific results were strongly dependent on strain and sex so that there does not appear to be a direct causative relationship between the deficits in neurogenesis and behavior.

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