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Mol Psychiatry. 2011 Feb;16(2):171-83. doi: 10.1038/mp.2009.130. Epub 2009 Dec 15.

Predictable chronic mild stress improves mood, hippocampal neurogenesis and memory.

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Medical Research & Surgery Services, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Durham, NC, USA.


Maintenance of neurogenesis in adult hippocampus is important for functions such as mood and memory. As exposure to unpredictable chronic stress (UCS) results in decreased hippocampal neurogenesis, enhanced depressive- and anxiety-like behaviors, and memory dysfunction, it is believed that declined hippocampal neurogenesis mainly underlies the behavioral and cognitive abnormalities after UCS. However, the effects of predictable chronic mild stress (PCMS) such as the routine stress experienced in day-to-day life on functions such as mood, memory and hippocampal neurogenesis are unknown. Using FST and EPM tests on a prototype of adult rats, we demonstrate that PCMS (comprising 5 min of daily restraint stress for 28 days) decreases depressive- and anxiety-like behaviors for prolonged periods. Moreover, we illustrate that decreased depression and anxiety scores after PCMS are associated with ~1.8-fold increase in the production and growth of new neurons in the hippocampus. Additionally, we found that PCMS leads to enhanced memory function in WMT as well as NORT. Collectively, these findings reveal that PCMS is beneficial to adult brain function, which is exemplified by increased hippocampal neurogenesis and improved mood and cognitive function.

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