Chronic glucocorticoid therapy alters axon sprouting in the hippocampal dentate gyrus

  • Scheff S
  • Cotman C
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Young adult male rats were adrenalectomized prior to subcutaneous implantation of a pellet containing a specified concentration of corticosterone utilized for chronic glucocorticoid replacement. The adrenalectomized animals were maintained at concentrations of circulating corticosterone corresponding to those found in naive young rats. In addition, other animals were maintained at concentrations approximately twice those present in control animals. Fifteen days after damage to the entorhinal cortex the brains were analyzed for changes in the outgrowth of the commissural-associational afferent fibers in the hippocampal dentate gyrus. Animals maintained at high corticosterone showed significantly less sprouting of these afferent fibers than controls and animals maintained on low hormone. Astrocytes within this brain region appeared markedly hypertrophied in the high corticosterone group. These findings suggest that steroid hormones may regulate synaptogenesis in the mature brain and play an important role in the brain's attempt to compensate for damage. © 1982.

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