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Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2009 Jan;91(3):339-44. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2008.08.003. Epub 2008 Aug 8.

Changes in glutamate decarboxylase enzyme activity and tau-protein phosphorylation in the hippocampus of old rats exposed to chronic mild stress: reversal with the neuronal nitric oxide synthase inhibitor 7-nitroindazole.

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Department of Geriatrics, Faculty of Medicine, Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt.


Effects of chronic stress are not completely understood. They may underlie depression and dementia. This study assessed the association between chronic stress, glutamate levels, tau-protein phosphorylation, and nitric-oxide in old rats exposed to chronic mild stress (CMS). Old (>15 months) male Wistar rats were exposed to CMS. Comparison groups included old and young control rats, young CMS-exposed, and old CMS-exposed rats treated with the neuronal nitric-oxide synthase (nNOS) enzyme inhibitor, 7-nitroindazole (20 mg/kg/day i.p.). Hippocampal glutamate levels and glutamate decarboxylase (GAD) activity were determined and tau protein phosphorylation was assessed. Age was a significant (p=0.025) source of variation in glutamate level [811.71+/-218.1, 665.9+/-124.9 micromol/g tissue protein (M+/-SD) in young and old control rats, respectively]. Old rats exposed to CMS were characterized by an increased risk to develop anhedonia. There was significant (p=0.035) decrease in GAD enzyme activity (-60.06%) and increased tau protein hyperphosphorylation in old rats exposed to CMS compared to control. Administration of 7-nitroindazole to CMS-exposed old rats significantly (p=0.002) increased GAD activity, decreased glutamate levels (7.19+/-3.19 vs. 763.9+/-91 micromol/g tissue protein; p=0.0005), and decreased phosphorylation of tau proteins compared to CMS exposed rats.

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