Effects of chronic mild stress on behavioral and neurobiological parameters — Role of glucocorticoid

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
Jiao Chen, Zhen-zhen Wang, Wei Zuo, Shuai Zhang, Shi-feng Chu, Nai-hong Chen
Hormones and Behavior
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Major depression is thought to originate from maladaptation to adverse events, particularly when impairments occur in mood-related brain regions. Hypothalamus–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis is one of the major systems involved in physiological stress response. HPA axis dysfunction and high glucocorticoid concentrations play an important role in the pathogenesis of depression. In addition, astrocytic disability and dysfunction of neurotrophin brain-derived neurotrophin factor (BDNF) greatly influence the development of depression and anxiety disorders. Therefore, we investigated whether depressive-like and anxiety-like behaviors manifest in the absence of glucocorticoid production and circulation in adrenalectomized (ADX) rats after chronic mild stress (CMS) exposure and its potential molecular mechanisms. The results demonstrate that glucocorticoid-controlled rats showed anxiety-like behaviors but not depression-like behaviors after CMS. Molecular and cellular changes included the decreased BDNF in the hippocampus, astrocytic dysfunction with connexin43 (cx43) decreasing and abnormality in gap junction in prefrontal cortex (PFC). Interestingly, we did not find any changes in glucocorticoid receptor (GR) or its chaperone protein FK506 binding protein 51 (FKBP5) expression in the hippocampus or PFC in ADX rats subjected to CMS. In conclusion, the production and circulation of glucocorticoids are one of the contributing factors in the development of depression-like behaviors in response to CMS. In contrast, the effects of CMS on anxiety-like behaviors are independent of the presence of circulating glucocorticoids. Meanwhile, stress decreased GR expression and enhanced FKBP5 expression via higher glucocorticoid exposure. Gap junction dysfunction and changes in BDNF may be associated with anxiety-like behaviors.


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