Prolonged corticosterone treatment of adult rats inhibits the proliferation of oligodendrocyte progenitors present throughout white and gray matter regions of the brain

Glia. 2000 Sep;31(3):219-31. doi: 10.1002/1098-1136(200009)31:3<219::aid-glia30>;2-r.


It is well established that glucocorticoids inhibit the proliferation of progenitor cells that occurs in the hippocampal dentate gyrus of adult mammals. Active cell proliferation also occurs in the subventricular zone (SVZ) of the lateral ventricle and, to a lesser extent, throughout white and gray matter regions of the adult brain. The aim of the present study was to determine whether extrahippocampal cell proliferation is also affected by glucocorticoids. The cell proliferation marker bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) was administered to control rats, to adrenalectomized rats, and to rats treated with a daily injection of corticosterone (10 mg/kg) for a period of 15 days. In control and adrenalectomized rats, high to low numerical densities of BrdU-labeled nuclei were detected within the different forebrain regions examined. In rats treated with corticosterone, a dramatic decrease of cell proliferation was detected in the dentate gyrus, but also throughout all white and gray matter regions examined, except for the SVZ of the lateral ventricle. Double-labeling experiments indicated that throughout the different white and gray forebrain regions examined, except for the SVZ, BrdU-labeled nuclei were essentially associated with cells immunostained for the marker of oligodendrocyte progenitors NG2. These data indicate that glucocorticoids inhibit the proliferation of oligodendrocyte precursors located throughout the white and gray matter regions of the adult rat brain. Since the proliferation of oligodendrocyte precursors plays a major role in the processes of remyelination, these data raise the question of possible detrimental effects of therapeutic treatments of CNS trauma based on the administration of glucocorticoids.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Antigens / metabolism
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Brain / cytology
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / growth & development*
  • Bromodeoxyuridine / metabolism
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cell Division / physiology*
  • Corticosterone / metabolism*
  • Corticosterone / pharmacology
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Nerve Fibers, Myelinated / drug effects
  • Nerve Fibers, Myelinated / metabolism*
  • Nerve Fibers, Myelinated / ultrastructure
  • Neural Cell Adhesion Molecule L1*
  • Neural Cell Adhesion Molecules / metabolism
  • Oligodendroglia / cytology
  • Oligodendroglia / drug effects
  • Oligodendroglia / metabolism*
  • Proteoglycans / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid / metabolism
  • Sialic Acids / metabolism
  • Stem Cells / cytology
  • Stem Cells / drug effects
  • Stem Cells / metabolism*


  • Antigens
  • Biomarkers
  • Neural Cell Adhesion Molecule L1
  • Neural Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Proteoglycans
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid
  • Sialic Acids
  • chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan 4
  • polysialyl neural cell adhesion molecule
  • Bromodeoxyuridine
  • Corticosterone