- Opposite effects of glucocorticoid receptor activation on hippocampal CA1 dendritic complexity in chronically stressed and handled animals
- Volume | Issue number
- 18 | 1
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences (SILS)
Remodeling of synaptic networks is believed to contribute to synaptic plasticity and long-term memory performance, both of which are modulated by chronic stress. We here examined whether chronic stress modulates dendritic complexity of hippocampal CA1 pyramidal cells, under conditions of basal as well as elevated corticosteroid hormone levels. Slices were prepared from naïve, handled or chronically stressed animals and briefly treated with vehicle or corticosterone (100 nM); neurons were visualized with a fluorescent dye injected into individual CA1 pyramidal cells. We observed that 21 days of unpredictable stress did not affect hippocampal CA1 apical or basal dendritic morphology compared with naïve animals when corticosteroid levels were low. Only when slices from stressed animals were also exposed to elevated corticosteroid levels, a significant reduction in apical (but not basal) dendritic length became apparent. Unexpectedly, animals that were handled or 3 weeks showed a reduction in both apical dendritic length and number of apical branch points when compared with naïve animals. Apical dendritic length and number of branch points were restored to levels found in naïve animals several hours after in vitro treatment with 100 nM corticosterone. All effects of acute corticosterone administration could be prevented by the glucocorticoid receptor antagonist RU38486 given during the last 4 days of the stress or handling protocol. We conclude that brief exposure to high concentrations of corticosterone can differently affect apical dendritic structure, depending on the earlier history of the animal, a process that critically depends on involvement of the glucocorticoid receptor.
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