Chronic corticosterone administration dose-dependently modulates Abeta(1-42)- and NMDA-induced neurodegeneration in rat magnocellular nucleus basalis

J Neuroendocrinol. 2000 Jun;12(6):486-94. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2826.2000.00475.x.


The impact of glucocorticoids on beta-amyloid(1-42) (Abeta(1-42)) and NMDA-induced neurodegeneration was investigated in vivo. Abeta(1-42) or NMDA was injected into the cholinergic magnocellular nucleus basalis in adrenalectomized (ADX) rats, ADX rats supplemented with 25%, 100%, 2x100% corticosterone pellets, or sham-ADX controls. Abeta(1-42)- or NMDA-induced damage of cholinergic nucleus basalis neurones was assessed by quantitative acetylcholinesterase histochemistry. Plasma concentrations of corticosterone and cholinergic fibre loss after Abeta(1-42) or NMDA injection showed a clear U-shaped dose-response relationship. ADX and subsequent loss of serum corticosterone potentiated both the Abeta(1-42) and NMDA-induced neurodegeneration. ADX+25% corticosterone resulted in a 10-90 nM plasma corticosterone concentration, which significantly attenuated the Abeta(1-42) and NMDA neurotoxicity. ADX+100% corticosterone (corticosterone concentrations of 110-270 nM) potently decreased both Abeta(1-42)- and NMDA-induced neurotoxic brain damage. In contrast, high corticosterone concentrations of 310-650 nM potentiated Abeta(1-42)- and NMDA-triggered neurodegeneration. In conclusion, chronic low or high corticosterone concentrations increase the vulnerability of cholinergic cells to neurotoxic insult, while slightly elevated corticosterone levels protect against neurotoxic injury. Enhanced neurotoxicity of NMDA in the presence of high concentrations of specific glucocorticoid receptor agonists suggests that the corticosterone effects are mediated by glucocorticoid receptors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Basal Nucleus of Meynert / drug effects*
  • Basal Nucleus of Meynert / pathology*
  • Corticosterone / administration & dosage*
  • Corticosterone / pharmacology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Agonists / pharmacology
  • Male
  • N-Methylaspartate / pharmacology
  • Nerve Degeneration / chemically induced*
  • Nerve Degeneration / pathology*
  • Neuroprotective Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Neuroprotective Agents / pharmacology
  • Peptide Fragments / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Time Factors


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Agonists
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Peptide Fragments
  • amyloid beta-protein (1-42)
  • N-Methylaspartate
  • Corticosterone