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Brain Res. 1994 Sep 19;657(1-2):227-35.

The effects of long-term corticosterone administration on hippocampal morphology and cognitive performance of middle-aged rats.

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Israel Institute for Biological Research, Department of Pharmacology, Ness-Ziona.


The main objective of this research was to study the relationship between glucocorticoids, aging and the deterioration of cognitive functions. Towards this end, an attempt was made to develop an animal model which will enable the investigation of such interactions, using subcutaneously implanted sustained-release corticosterone pellets. The goal was to achieve moderately high concentrations of corticosterone in plasma, comparable to the peak basal levels or to those found under mild stress. Middle-aged (12 months old) Fischer-344 rats, used in this study, were divided before the prolonged hormonal treatment into cognitively 'impaired' and 'non-impaired' groups using the Morris water maze. The cognitive impairment, which was induced by the long-term corticosterone administration, was exhibited during acquisition of the 8-arm radial maze only in the 'non-impaired' group. Behavioral scores for drug-treated 'impaired' rats were not statistically different from those of the placebo-treated 'impaired' group. The morphological deterioration in hippocampal areas of the brain was quantified and revealed high correlation with the behavioral data. This animal model may become extremely useful in testing projected prophylactic therapy against the brain damage and cognitive deficits induced by the high corticosteroid-aging combination.

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