Hippocampal formation: shedding light on the influence of sex and stress on the brain

Brain Res Rev. 2007 Oct;55(2):343-55. doi: 10.1016/j.brainresrev.2007.02.006. Epub 2007 Feb 28.


The hippocampus is a malleable brain region that responds to external agents such as hormones and stressors. Investigations that began in our laboratories with the Golgi technique and an appreciation of hippocampal neuroanatomy at the light and electron microscopic levels have led us down a path that has uncovered unexpected structural plasticity in the adult brain along with unanticipated cellular and molecular mechanisms of this plasticity and of hormone mediation of these effects. This chapter reviews the history of discoveries in our two laboratories involving the actions of estradiol and stress hormones on neuronal structure and function and then discusses the insight to hormone-brain interactions that this has engendered. These discoveries have led us to a new view of brain structural plasticity and the role and mechanism of steroid hormone action involving both genomic and non-genomic pathways. This new view is consistent with the predictions of Cajal in his book "The Structure of Ammon's horn", 1892.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Hippocampus / ultrastructure
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Receptors, Pituitary Hormone / metabolism
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Silver Staining
  • Stress, Physiological / pathology*
  • Stress, Physiological / physiopathology*


  • Receptors, Pituitary Hormone