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Neurobiol Aging. 1996 Nov-Dec;17(6):859-64.

Stress-induced changes in brain-derived neurotrophic factor expression are attenuated in aged Fischer 344/N rats.

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Biological Psychiatry Branch, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Aging and stress can sometimes result in a decline in brain function. We addressed the question whether changes in the expression of neurotrophic factors, which are necessary for the survival and maintenance of neurons, might occur during aging and stress. Therefore, we used in situ hybridization to investigate the effects of aging and stress on neurotrophic factor expression in young (3-4 month) and old (24 month) male Fischer 344/N rats. The ability of acute immobilization stress (2 h) to modulate BDNF mRNA levels in old rats was significantly reduced both in the hippocampus (a smaller decrease in BDNF) and the PVN (a smaller increase in BDNF) compared to young rats. In contrast, the induction of nerve growth factor and neurotrophin 3 (NT-3) by stress was not influenced by age. The diminished BDNF responses to stress in aged rats may be relevant to difficulties in adaptation to stress encountered during old age.

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