Age-dependent effects of chronic stress on brain plasticity and depressive behavior

J Neurochem. 2008 Oct;107(2):522-32. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2008.05642.x. Epub 2008 Aug 22.


Exposure to chronic mild stress (CMS) is known to induce anhedonia in adult animals, and is associated with induction of depression in humans. However, the behavioral effects of CMS in young animals have not yet been characterized, and little is known about the long-term neurochemical effects of CMS in either young or adult animals. Here, we found that CMS induces anhedonia in adult but not in young animals, as measured by a set of behavioral paradigms. Furthermore, while CMS decreased neurogenesis and levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the hippocampus of adult animals, it increased these parameters in young animals. We also found that CMS altered alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazole-4-propionate (AMPA) receptor GluR1 subunit levels in the hippocampus and the nucleus accumbens of adult, but not young animals. Finally, no significant differences were observed between the effects of CMS on circadian corticosterone levels in the different age groups. The substantially different neurochemical effects chronic stress exerts in young and adult animals may explain the behavioral resilience to such stress young animals possess.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / metabolism
  • Bromodeoxyuridine / metabolism
  • Depression / etiology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Exploratory Behavior / physiology
  • Food Preferences / physiology
  • Locomotion / physiology
  • Male
  • Neurogenesis / physiology*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, AMPA / metabolism
  • Stress, Psychological / complications*
  • Stress, Psychological / pathology*
  • Sucrose / administration & dosage
  • Swimming


  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Receptors, AMPA
  • Sucrose
  • Bromodeoxyuridine
  • glutamate receptor ionotropic, AMPA 1