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Mol Psychiatry. 2008 Nov;13(11):1028-42. doi: 10.1038/mp.2008.51. Epub 2008 May 13.

Conditional mouse mutants highlight mechanisms of corticotropin-releasing hormone effects on stress-coping behavior.

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Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Munich, Germany.


Hypersecretion of central corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) has been implicated in the pathophysiology of affective disorders. Both, basic and clinical studies suggested that disrupting CRH signaling through CRH type 1 receptors (CRH-R1) can ameliorate stress-related clinical conditions. To study the effects of CRH-R1 blockade upon CRH-elicited behavioral and neurochemical changes we created different mouse lines overexpressing CRH in distinct spatially restricted patterns. CRH overexpression in the entire central nervous system, but not when overexpressed in specific forebrain regions, resulted in stress-induced hypersecretion of stress hormones and increased active stress-coping behavior reflected by reduced immobility in the forced swim test and tail suspension test. These changes were related to acute effects of overexpressed CRH as they were normalized by CRH-R1 antagonist treatment and recapitulated the effect of stress-induced activation of the endogenous CRH system. Moreover, we identified enhanced noradrenergic activity as potential molecular mechanism underlying increased active stress-coping behavior observed in these animals. Thus, these transgenic mouse lines may serve as animal models for stress-elicited pathologies and treatments that target the central CRH system.

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